A Latent Upgrowth: HAIF 3.0
At the beginning of the academic year 2016-17, the NIT-R populace had witnessed a major exchange of words between two sides - the administration and the student community. This was on the wake of the implementation of a fee hike of 2500 INR per semester for HAIF (Hall Activities and Improved Facilities). Even as the stance of either of the sides seemed justified, the circumstances in which the change was implemented was looked upon with raised eyebrows.
In one of our extensively covered previous issues, we had discussed upon the exact flow of events and brought out the reasons cited by the authorities as well as the students for their respective moves. The link for the same is:
A subsequent follow-up included the progress of the works completed.
Now as an entire semester and a half has passed and with the fact that we are almost approaching the end of this academic year, it’s the ideal time to retrospect the modifications brought about by the move, once again.
The Progress of Development in Halls
One of the major proposed areas where the hiked amount was supposed to be used was to install curtains in all the hostels. The HAIF budget of odd semester was therefore, allocated for this purpose and the even semester’s budget was planned to be used for the installation of Central Water heating system.
Right now, curtains are being installed phase-wise in halls, because the Chief Warden is of the opinion that trying to do it in one go would account for a massive project and would involve complications. The installation of the Central Water heating system is to begin only after curtains have been installed in all the halls.
Team MM discussed in length with the General secretaries of each of the Halls of Residences and tallied down the amount of work that has been done up until now and what other new developments have happened from the amount.
VS Hall of Residence
- The curtain installation at the biggest Hall, had begun towards the end of October. Curtains have been fitted in all the rooms except a few which were found locked. A webmail has been sent to those boarders whose rooms were locked and the raw materials have been kept in the office.
- Payment has been done only for those rooms where curtains have been installed and 10% of their total budget has been kept on hold, which would be paid only after the installation is completed in all the rooms.
- The work of Central Water heating system shall begin in the next semester or during summer.
MSS Hall of Residence:
- The curtain installation at MSS began with the beginning of this semester. Room-wise measurements have been taken during the last month and the tender would be released soon.
MV Hall of Residence
- The HEC of MV has plans of building a concrete path connecting the hall with GDB Hall of Residence, which can be used in all seasons.
- The work regarding the newly installed gym has been finished and it’s ready to be inaugurated on 8th March during the Hall day celebrations.
- Curtain installation has been completed since three months. The warden of the Hall has personally monitored the entire project.
GDB Hall of Residence
GDB had its curtains installed since last summer holidays.
- The work regarding the Central Water heating system, however has been slacking, following the suit of most of the other Halls.
CVR Hall of Residence
The General Secretary of the CVR Hall of Residence mentioned that nothing novel of significance has been accomplished with the money allocated for HAIF.
KMS Hall of Residence
The budget of the KMS Hall has remained the same as it was in the beginning of the academic year, which amounts to around 2400 INR multiplied by the number of boarders. This is the amount that is transferred to the Hall fund from the Chief Warden's fund.
There have not been any major changes in the Hall since the curtain installation had already been accomplished before the start of the academic year.
- The budget is being used for purposes like the caretaker's salary, the accountant's salary, the cycle stand fee, equipments and other garden related items. Apart from that, the lights and decorations for Hall Days, cultural activities and other such purchases to aid in beautifying the Hall premises, all comes under that one budget.
- The maintenance of the taps, pipes and geysers is also covered under that.
- A new thing on the pipeline is the purchase of a large table, which would amount to 24,000 INR, in order to fix up a study room for the boarders.
HB Hall of Residence
- The major work done with the funds at the HB Hall has been in the form of curtain installation. Small maintenance works like changes in the central gas pipeline and addition of a few kitchen equipments like idli makers and toasters have also been implemented.
- Central water heating system has been installed in B-block. Despite requests for inclusion of the system in the A block too, no response has been received from Chief Warden's office. However, the repairing of all the individual water heating systems has been done.
SD Hall of Residence
- Despite the dimensions being present at the Chief Warden's office, the tendering of curtains is still pending, and no steps have been taken towards creating a central water heating system.
- Modular kitchen designs have been incorporated, and new food making equipment have been introduced.
- From gate installation to creation of whole concrete slab structures near it, all work was done in the time span of day, while completing a block in the hall. Items for a fully furnished office having sofas rolling chairs, table, center table and cupboards have also been purchased till now.
DBA Hall of Residence
- Curtains, which were the basic priority of the funds, have not been installed in DBA yet.
- A new badminton court has been created between A and B blocks.
- Wire nets and hydraulic gate closures have been installed in the cycle stand, a major incentive to prevent dogs from entering the hostel premises.
- A part of the money is being used for general maintenance work and for improving the gym conditions.
While there have been some developments regarding improved facilities at some of the Halls, some of them are yet to feel any difference. Right now then, there occurs a need to gauge how logically and reasonably the execution of the planned projects have been carried out and whether the growth curve can be extrapolated to find a point that would yield benefits for the entire area of interest.
The Curtain Fiasco
During the time when curtains were not installed in the halls, students didn't usually face any major problems, save a few exceptional cases. Also, students used their own ways by using clothes or newspapers to cover their windows. That the administration came up with the idea of curtain installation was good thing and it was pretty well-planned. But the manner in which it has been implemented has a dark side to it.
As per the information collected from the HEC of HB and VS Hall of Residence, an approximate of 1400 INR was spent for the installation of a single curtain. Going by the quality and dimensions of curtains and including the curtain rods that have been installed in the rooms of HB, this seems pretty over-priced. Search results in several online vendors for similar curtains, displayed a variety of options priced in the range of 300-400 INR approximately. The link for these online vendors are:
Apart from that, the fact that this project is being done by a local wholesaler and that it is being done for a bulk of around 6000 students, would naturally have cost way less than the actual money that has been spent. This further raises the question of necessity. Staying in a hostel room for which the students pay a rent of 2500 INR per semester and installing two curtains inside it at a cost of 1400 INR per piece; how justified is that?
Could there have been a better way to spend the money?
Most of the General Secretaries were of the opinion that the amount of money that has been spent for curtain installation was needless and could have been used to solve several other pertinent and day-to-day problems in halls of residences.
- The rodent and pest problem in VS hall which exists basically due to gaps in the pillars, maintenance of coolers in several Halls because some of them have not been functional since a long time, installation of a second LAN port in double-seater rooms are places where the money could have been used fruitfully.
- As far as HB Hall is concerned, despite curtain installation being a basic requirement, proper painting of rooms and fitting of new tiles in broken rooms are even more necessary. Yet another problem persisting in H.B hall since a long time has been proper maintainance of bathrooms, an issue which has been brought up previously, but without any steps taken in this regard, something which could be looked upon in future times.
- In the SD Hall, in spite of procuring gym equipments, its installation has not been done yet. Also, study rooms and items for recreational activities could have been considered while bringing about reformations.
- In DBA Hall, there have been lot of cases of insect bites, especially with the students residing on the ground floor. In order to curb this, mosquito nets could be installed in all of the rooms. Frequent power cuts being an irksome issue, a proper power back up system could be created with the said funds.
Recently the warden of the CVR Hall of Residence, Prof. Archana Mallick passed a tender to install mosquito nets in all the rooms of CVR. But, it was rejected by the Chief Warden citing that the project would consume a very high budget which the HMC can’t afford.
Swadhin Kumar Nayak, General Secretary of VS hall in one of the HMCs said,
This is a general issue which has been inflicting every hall in one way or the other. Installation of nets would definitely help in pest control too. This is something which needs to be carried out.
The Chief Warden eventually agreed to start with the installation of mosquito nets however phase wise, as the budget consumed would be too large to accomplish the work in one go. Also, it is being planned that care would be taken by installing zip-nets which would be flexible and can be removed if the boarders wish to remove them for fitting coolers in windows during summer
On a completely separate note, questions have also begun to surface regarding the fact that a major chunk of the money is being used to meet the deficit of crores which the institute is running short of. It's rather hard to understand why the management made an over-expenditure of crores for years together when they had less budget to begin with. Also, why shall the present batches of students pay for those batches which passed out paying lesser amount of Establishment fees?
The Road Ahead Again
These are a few things that force us to reconsider and think time and again about the management’s decision to collect 2500 INR extra per semester from a bulk of 5000 students. The students sure understand the need to revamp the salaries of all the staff involved in running the institute smoothly, according to the Minimum Wages Act. They also understand that the hike seemed a bit escalated at one go, because the fees hadn't been hiked since a long time. They appreciate the fact that the initial cause of unrest, which was the inclusion of the fee hike under the wrong head 'Mess Dues' rather than being under 'Establishment Fees', has been taken care of. And they definitely do not hesitate to pay the money that they know could better the place they live in. But there is one thing the entire populace wants. And, that is the need of proper and legitimate channels in which the money is being used, and a suitable justification for the same rather than installing curtains at a price of 1400 INR per piece or using it to pay the deficit which occured as our seniors passed out paying lesser Establishment fees!