The Building Block of Merits and Flaws: SD Hall of Residence
A gigantic residential complex in itself, the Satish Dhawan Hall of Residence, inaugurated in 2015-16, is the largest abode for the students of NITR. Situated in a comparatively far-flung corner of the campus, the campus is both popular for its brand new clean and spacious interiors and its quaint serenity, and infamous for its arduous distance from the academic area. Although officially still under construction, the hostel has been allotted in batches (block-wise) since 2016. Team MM conducted a comprehensive study of the present status of the hall with a plethora of concerns, and also reviewed the common problems and queries of the boarders with the aim of highlighting them before the authorities for a fast resolution.
The hostel is situated on a sprawling plot with lots of greenery around, but with an unfinished lawn and outdoor courts, the hostel still has a lot of potential to develop into the likes of its adjacent neighbour, the VS Hall.
Recently the process of gardening has begun and flower pots have been placed along the pathways in E,F and G block.
---according to the words of General Secretary
There is an administrative I-block spanning the very entrance area, which along with the mess (D block) behind it, divides the entire hostel into 2 regions of 3 blocks each—A, B and C on the west and E, F and G on the east. All the blocks themselves have a circular layout and is 4-storeyed, thereby making a total of about 1014 odd rooms, and a 1000 strong boarder population. The blocks are interspersed with well-lit and paved pathways. Besides, there is a bridge-like structure in the 2nd floor connecting all the blocks through the upper floor of D-block, which serves as a multipurpose common room and a mess in the ground floor. The common rooms in the individual blocks stay under lock and are utilized only to accommodate incoming visitors during fests etc. The corridors, being newly painted, are almost spotlessly clean and the washrooms are still well maintained with a mostly functional plumbing.
The giant hostel offers a plethora of services for the general convenience of the boarders. This includes a Stationery Shop in F-Block and a Cycle Pump at E-Block. The only Night Canteen in the hall, a reliable haunt for all the late-night hunger pangs, is situated in the 3rd Floor of G-Block. The floor above the I-block is fitted with power-backup facilities and tables and chairs, and the Warden clearly designated it as the main reading hall for the boarders. The same venue is also used for General Body meetings and Hall Elections, and the Ground floor houses all the offices and Caretakers’ quarters.
As of now, there is neither a proper cycle-stand nor any outdoor playing courts like any of the other hostels, and because of the rather awkward design and odd placement of the unfinished courts where it is prone to the foils of weather, the General Secretary revealed that there are no plans to revamp them. Instead, the 1st Floor of the D-block will house all the recreational amenities under one roof--- the indoor badminton court with nets and markings, a TV/music room, a common room, a gym, and table-tennis courts.
Every block of the hall is uniquely equipped with an efficient firefighting system in case of emergencies, with hose pipes, alarms, and extinguishers, the latter of which was also replaced recently during the time of our review.
The rooms in SD are sufficiently spacious enough for single and double seaters as well. Only sophomores are allotted rooms on a twin-seater basis in the top floor. The rooms in A, B, and C being freshly painted are spotlessly clean. As of now, all of the rooms have been furnished with beds, tables, and a chair each unlike last year, when even the beds were unavailable. There is one LAN port and 3 sockets in all the rooms. Regular cleaning is provided every weekend and corridors and toilets are cleaned every other day. Many boarders, especially of the sophomore year, had changed their rooms after the last allotments with mutual agreement and permission of the authorities, and their new rooms have been recorded by the caretakers in a random verification drive last semester. Currently, C block has empty rooms on the top 2 floors and will be allotted to students by next year, creating more single-seater rooms for boys.
Table of the Hall Executive Council. The Hall Elections were contested last August and postholders took up their respective responsibilities a couple of weeks later.
Prof Suman Jha
QRS. No. FR/10, NIT Campus
Prof. BBVL Deepak
A-202, SSB Hall of Residence
Bhaskar Jyoti Hazarika
Murali Krishna V
Cultural and Entertainment Secretary
Games and Sports Secretary
Balivada Chaitanya Kumar
Bipin Behari Mohanty
The budget for the expenses of the Hall is generated primarily from the Rs 2400/- hostel fee collected from each boarder.
The overall budget allotted this year for the hall’s upkeep was precariously low; and coupled with the fact that there were already overheads from last year amounting to Rs 7 lakhs, only a sum of Rs 17 lakhs was available to the HMC for year-round expenditures. Besides the CWO directly denied the responsibility of procurement of new water-coolers, geysers etc for the newly inaugurated hall, and this amount too had to be deducted from the annual maintenance budget. As per the latest reports, only a meagre sum of Rs 2 lakhs were available for sustaining the last 3 months which would be mostly used up in drawing salaries of the regular hall caretakers and cycle stand guards, and without any additional allotments, even conducting the remaining hall feasts looks dreary, let alone invest in new infrastructural developments and decorations. Besides the salaries of the 2 caretakers and 2 cycle stand guards have also been hiked to 18000 and 10000 INR respectively, and thus a sum of 6,72,000 is spent in this head alone. In the words of the General Secretary,
“The sparse budget poses the main problem as of now. We will approach the Chief Warden and maybe also the Director to find a solution for this.”
The mess of the hall in the D-block has a giant seating arrangement to cater to the needs of the about 1000 boarders on any regular day. The quality of food offered has a widely varied opinion among the boarders, from oily to hygienic, and from tasteless to too spicy. Nevertheless, many agree that the change of caterer in the last semester has definitely improved overall quality, but with few menu changes this semester, a minimal decent variety of choices in the platter is barely sustained. The ‘dahi’ served regularly in the mess largely varies in quality, and based on complaints, the Mess Secretary had approached the caterer and planned on some changes in the menu. Moreover, the Biriyani served weekly has a widespread complaint of being substandard in both taste and quality, over which the Mess Secretary said—
“I have talked to the caterer in this regard. According to him, cooking Biriyani with the proper ingredients for 1000 boarders would entail a huge cost, and with no checks on boarders from neighbouring halls like Hall 7 sneaking in, such a decision would incur big losses.”
Even with modern kitchen equipment and most of the cooking occurring right beside the serving area, managing the crowd becomes a problem in peak hours as the actual storage-cum-cooking area is housed in a different building at some distance from the mess.
There is sufficient equipment like toasters and water filters in the mess and desserts and sweet dishes are offered almost every day with the veg-thalis, unlike many other halls. Apart from this, the common complaints are delays in starting the food service and paucity of spoons on certain days. Besides, there was a marked problem of water leakage from the water pipelines in the mess wall which caused lots of water accumulation during last semester. The matter was resolved after several weeks when the estate office paid a visit and did some emergency patchwork, however the big gaping hole and scaffoldings left behind still stands as an eyesore to this day.
YEAR ROUND EVENTS
The last semester saw a number of events, prominently the Engineer’s Day celebration in the hall for which a small programme and gala feast was organised. The Intra-Hall Sports have been recently concluded in certain events like badminton, chess, carom, cricket, volleyball and Table Tennis while the Inter-Hall events were held in the year, with the notable achievement being the Hall team emerging the winner in badminton, runners-up against DBA in the football tournament, runners-up in Basketball, and 2nd Runners-up in Volleyball
Since its inception, the various issues plaguing the boarders of SD Hall have changed both in nature and extent. With all the rooms fully furnished, and new indoor and kitchen equipment bought, many of the problems have been alleviated. Nevertheless, some of them persist to this day.
The roof above the common room is a corrugated tin one and leaks during the rainy season. With new expensive media and gym equipment been purchased from the hall fund recently, the safety of these remain a matter of concern and needs urgent attention before the upcoming monsoons.
The estate office is in charge of the unfinished entrance patch and has so far not sent any engineers to plan and begin the paving work, despite being approached by the HEC.
The mess still sports all the marks of the hasty repair work that was done recently—
The toilets were found to be clean in general, but with one geyser for 2 bathrooms in each floor, that too installed in January. Taps, faucets, and mirrors were all in working condition. A few showerheads, hangers and door ventilators were missing as depicted below,
No dustbins, only cardboard boxes, but garbage was cleaned and swept every morning, even mopped. General cleanliness was appreciable, with almost no stains in walls.
A perfunctory gardening with an almost barren lawn, as seen in the distance, is a sharp contrast to the Hall’s more appealing counterparts like VS and HB.
The long dysfunctional Gym will be reopened shortly in the enclosed area shown in the distance and all the new equipment has been purchased. The indoor badminton court will continue as it is.
With no cycle stand, the cycles are parked haphazardly in the entrance area, pathways, and corridors
The unfinished courts in the middle of nowhere will remain as they are at present, as they are found unsuitable to play because of the open windy area surrounding them. Also, there is no funds left to renovate the volleyball court, or the lawns on the exterior of the hall, and as such no recent plans for outdoor work is on board.
Besides the above, there are a potful of other general problems worth noting. Dog menace was starkly visible during the winter, but has lessened since. Roofs are still damaged in some rooms and have been repaired with boards with no permanent insulations.
RESPONSES FROM AUTHORITIES
The warden on being approached with the bouquet of issues responded to each query categorically. He quoted:
“We are running low on budget. We have only 2 lakhs to manage with the rest of the financial year. The hall hasn’t been completely handed over by the HMC and the purchase of geysers and water coolers was not supposed to be done from the Hall’s allotted budget. That is the main reason why we lack in budget during the existing financial year. We will request the Chief Warden to allot us with some more funds to carry out the required activities such as Intra-Hall, Hall Day etc.”
As per administrative authorities, the giant hall in its entirety is still in an ‘under construction’ phase and hasn’t yet been handed over by the Estate. The unfinished road is under the purview of the Estate office and unless they decide to send someone over, plan and start the work, the Warden can only submit a request in this regard, which has already been made.
This probably explained why a plethora of problems plaguing the boarders of the hall since last year persists even today. Many of the rooms are already locked and kept vacant for repair works in the leaking roofs. The Warden assured us that these works have been completed, and the rooms will be allotted by next semester.
“With regard to the Curtains, the Director had declared that no further curtains will be fitted in the hostels.”
The Warden is unaware whether any HAIF fees were collected from the students in this regard and declined to comment on the subsequent refund/reutilisation process of this amount.
On being asked about the missing dustbins, the Maintenance Secretary said that 4 dustbins were installed from the beginning in every floor in every block of the hostel. If the problem of missing dustbins is severe, boarders can easily communicate the details of the location to any of the caretakers and action would be taken within a week.
Regarding organising the remaining hall feast, the Cultural and Environment Secretary, while admitting to the paucity of funds, added that plans for the annual Hall Day in mid-March is definitely on board, and once the plans for caterers, etc is finalised, the date would be announced. He also added that this time a grand committee has already started discussions for the upcoming Grand-Farewell Dinner, with the Chief Warden, all the Wardens, and Secretaries, and a lot of focus is directed towards this event as well.
In conclusion, the Warden ensured that once the hall is fully functional, the hall will emerge as one of the most sought-after halls in the campus.
Team MM after a thorough inspection of the hall and its impression on boarders, came across a number of appreciable ventures taken by the hall authorities as well as a strong number of shortcomings and scope of improvement in future. All in all, the SD Hall is certainly the best choice with its USP of clean and well-maintained interiors, a quaint, peaceful ambience and proximity to the back post, but be warned that with unfinished infrastructural amenities like water-coolers, poor external landscaping and above all a huge distance from the academic area, the hall can also be one of the trying decisions for all those who wish to switch over to this in the upcoming hall allotments.