Coping with Crisis
With the onset of another even semester, there is a lot of discontent among the boarders as several issues continue to blight their peaceful stay. In an interaction with the chief warden, Prof. S.K. Patel, on a sundry winter evening, Team MM brought up several issues to his notice.
MM: The dog menace has yet not been curbed completely. Even the wire mesh and hydraulic automatic door closer could not bring an end to this and dogs can still be spotted around the mess area of DBA and MSS. In previous interactions you mentioned that municipality could not take action because they were coordinating with local veterinary hospitals. What is the current status on that?
CW: I did not receive any complaint about Dogs still roaming in MSS and DBA Halls after the installation of automatic door closer and wire meshes. we have persuaded the municipality several times to look into this matter and even our Director has sent a letter to them to take care of this situation. As per the laws of PETA, it is illegal to kill them so we will have to wait till the municipality takes any action. I will try to contact them again to know the possible reasons for the delay.
MM: In the mid-August interaction with MM you mentioned that you would devise a concrete plan to counter the problem of pests and rodents in VS hall yet the problem still persists. What steps have been taken till now?
CW: We deliberated upon this issue and the idea of using stick pads came up to cope up with the problems of rodents in VS hall. I had asked them to implement that idea. I will follow up to check the extent to which they have implemented it.
MM: You assured that SD hall would soon get a cycle stand. How far has the work progressed?
CW: The construction of Hall does not lie under the administration of Chief Warden. It is done by Dean Planning and Development. The construction work of SD hall has yet not been completed and the building has not been handed over to us. Moreover, the government has reduced the financial assistance and hence the pace of construction has suffered a setback.
MM: Rooms of VS, MSS, SD and MV halls of residence still have single LAN port despite having double occupancy. Any steps being taken to improve this?
CW: After the completion of SD hall we are expecting to turn it into a single seater hostel. We have similar plans for VS hall too. Since we plan to turn them into single seater halls investments on an installation of another LAN port would be quite otiose. The first year halls will remain to be double seater so we have already started the installation of an additional LAN port in the rooms of MV hall.
MM: An amount of 2500 was collected under HAIF for putting up curtains in rooms and decoration purposes. How far has it been implemented?
CW: The work of putting curtains has already started in VS hall and about half of it is complete. Few rooms were locked and hence could not be covered. The work is going on parallelly in HB hall. I have instructed DBA and MSS to initiate the tender next. Students must understand that we cannot provide curtains in all of the halls because whatever has been paid under HAIF is not sufficient enough.
MM: The mess was closed even on Saturday and Sunday, before and after the official holidays of Dussehra. What was the reason for that?
CW: During vacations, a large number of boarders leave the campus by Saturday and If the Mess is kept open on such days then the caterer gets full payment for that day despite feeding a very scanty number of students. The decision of closing the Mess on those weekends was taken to benefit the students. Boarders have not been charged for those weekend days and were provided with a mess rebate.
MM: Have you devised any system to ensure that the hall secretaries work dutifully?
"The members of HEC are under the wardens of their respective halls. He is the controlling authority and it is his duty to ensure that the elected representatives discharge their duties without fail."
MM: In recent months, snakes have been found in the hostel premises of KMS and CVR. What actions have been taken so far to handle this problem?
CW: The last time a snake was sighted was around night canteen of KMS and we took immediate steps. The area around the night canteen was cleaned up, repellents were sprayed and three new lights were set up. Similar steps were taken for MV hall of residence as well. No other such incident has been reported to me from KMS after that. I also advise the boarders must maintain cleanliness in their respective halls and any such incidents must be immediately brought to my notice.
MM: Fancy lamp posts have been installed in KMS while the lights in the cycle stand remain defunct. Why was the fund not utilised for solving major issues instead of spending extravagantly on beautification?
CW: I am not aware of any such changes in KMS hall. We allot the budget to HEC and they decide the priority of requirements and utilisation of the allotted amount.
"My suggestion is to always go for the maintenance work first. If the hall has all the basic facilities in sound condition only then they should spend on beautification."
MM: The entrance of VS Hall has been painted and decorated. Are there any similar plans for other halls in the pipeline? In KMS too fancy lamp posts have been installed. What was the need of spending funds in beautification while major issues lie unattended?
"I had opposed to the beautification plan but the HECs and warden of VS hall were vehemently in support of it. I don’t know why they chose beautification over maintenance issues. I am personally not in favour of it."
MM: VS Hall is boarded by an enormously large number of boarders, yet it has only one night canteen which gets crowded. What is your take on having another night canteen for E, F, G, H blocks?
CW: The HEC should send the proposal for a new night canteen to the warden and then it should be brought to the Chief Warden for approval. They have to follow the general procedure if they want to implement something new.
MM: In the area between GDB and MV Halls, and DBA and MSS Halls, leaves and garbage are being burnt which fills the nearby rooms with smoke. Is any measure being taken to tackle this?
CW: I thank MM for bringing this issue to our notice We will see to it that wastes aren’t burnt anymore in the hostel premises. A circular will be sent regarding the ban of burning garbage in the hostel area.
MM: The badminton courts in DBA do not have halogen lights. One of them even gets puddled during the rains. What has been done to improve this situation?
CW: It is for the warden of that Hall to look after. They have been given the funds they need. And we cannot provide extra funds to any hall as that would be unfair. If they need to make some changes they will have to spend judiciously from their budget.
MM: Whenever there is any damage of commodity, all the boarders of that particular wing where the damage has occurred have to pay the fine, that too double the amount required to repair the damage. Why is it so? And where is the extra money utilised?
CW: Since these commodities fall under public property, if no one comes up to take up the blame for the damage, we will have to impose a fine on all the boarders for it.
"If we are convinced that the damage was not by natural means and no one admits breaking it, we have to impose fine on the entire wing so as to check such incidents. The fine amount is double so that students are discouraged from committing such mistakes. The extra money comes to the Chief Warden's fund. If a huge amount is collected, we let the hall keep it if they demand it."
MM: In HB Hall, tiles of washroom were replaced, but the doors still remain in dilapidated condition. Why have they not been repaired yet?
CW: Tiles come under civil construction, while doors come under carpentry. The estate prioritises which work has to be done first. They went for the civil part first. The work is under process and again due to fund crisis, these repairs take time.
MM: In an institute of National Importance, why don't we have professional caterers in mess?
CW: The caterer with the lowest petition is given the responsibility. The professional caterers demanded rupees 150 per day, which was objected by the students. Instead, they went for the caterer that charged rupees 93 per day. The caterers were decided after the consent of the students themselves.
MM: How did you like working as the Chief Warden? How did you manage the responsibilities as a professor and as the Chief Warden?
CW: It's quite challenging as a job. There is a lot of scope to work here and I enjoyed interacting with students. I came across a variety of problems and issues faced by different students. I tried my best to keep them satisfied and also tried to ensure that the funds allotted to are spent judiciously.Both the jobs as a professor and as a Chief warden are challenging. If you are entrusted with a responsibility, you have to do it. The only thing is that I had to devote more time to work. Earlier I was able to spend the evening with my family, but as a Chief Warden, I got to spend time with my family of boarders.
MM: Is there any message you want to leave for our boarders?
CW: The boarders should cultivate some good habits. One should learn to pick up their plates after a meal and keep it in the required place. This habit is very important when you join the corporate world later in life. Also, they should learn to save electricity and water. They should switch off the electrical equipment when it's not in use. It's not the concern about money, but about the energy crisis in the country that one should keep in mind.
"When one finds a problem that needs to be solved, he/she should take an interest to get it solved."