On A Tight Leash : KMS Hall Review
A haven for the budding female engineers and scientists, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw Hall of Residence finds itself cocooned in a lush green abode away from the academic din. It is the home to almost 450 boarders. Under the aegis of the new warden, Prof.Kakoli Karar Paul, KMS Hall of Residence visions another fruitful year augmented with improvised facilities and adequate provisions. She was entrusted with this new responsibility last month in July. She has a broad spectrum of plans to implement this year for improvising the overall state of affairs in the Hall. Team MM caught up with her to know more about her ideas and missions, also bringing to the surface some of the underlying issues which haunt the boarders now and then.
MESS AND DINING:
Although all the boarders are satisfied with the cleanliness and hygiene of the mess hall, the mess food is not up to the mark in both taste and nutrition, with high oil and spice content. There is a pressing need to update the ‘quality’ of the mess menu. While the mess workers adhere strictly to the rule of wearing caps and aprons, the instances of finding hair and insects in the food being served still haunts the boarders. The plates and spoons are found to be greasy and sticky sometimes. One can still find serpentine queues in front of the mess hall, particularly during the breakfast and the lunch hours when the students are in a hurry for the classes; pondering over whether to eat the meals or not. This problem stems from the lack of ample mess-staff to address the needs of the boarders, as they fail to prepare sufficient meals ‘all at once', at appropriate timings. Many choose to forgo the meal, having kept waiting for several more minutes. Also, one has to confront the hesitant faces of the mess-workers upon being asked for the food a second time. A fully-operational recently renovated night canteen in front of the A-block provides boarders with a momentary escape from the monotony of the mess-food.
On being asked about the current status of the mess food, Prof. Kakoli stated,
Recently, the breakfast timings have been changed, to commence at about 7 am to tackle this issue of long queues. Our students have the absolute liberty to demand food for a second time without facing any resistance from the mess-staff. Any violation of the above rule should be brought to my immediate notice. After electing a new mess secretary, she will address this issue and try to upgrade the mess-menu to meet the common interests of the boarders and improve the quality of the mess food.
HEALTH AND HYGIENE:
The washrooms and corridors are cleaned regularly, and the premises are well maintained in some of the blocks while that of A block seems to lay in abysmal conditions. While the cleaning maids are supposed to clean the room once a week, it is done at irregular timings. They claim that their wages are not being paid on a regular basis. This ultimately reflects irregularities and loopholes in the cleanliness and the maintenance of the washrooms and corridors.
Many of the bathrooms are dilapidated with flushes and shower heads were broken. Most of the geysers are non-functional, particularly in the A-block. Washrooms in B Block have been quite well maintained whereas, in that of A, the 2nd washroom on the ground floor is not clean. In the 1st washroom, all the light bulbs are non-functional. The geyser is also dysfunctional in the 2nd washroom as well. Boarders claim that they have spotted few unidentified species of worms and pests in the bathroom floors.
The legacy of dog menace continues to be a nuisance. They climb to the first floors and bark at dark hours of the night, disturbing the boarders. They even tore off clothes of few of the boarders which were left off to dry!
On being questioned regarding this, the Warden Prof. Kakoli says,
The presence of dogs in the premises is due to the small holes or openings in the boundary of the hall and absence of nets in the drains which help them get through. These holes shall soon be blocked. Certain pest control measures are underway. I have instructed the spraying of phenyl and carbolic acid to check the spike in pest and reptile menace particularly during the rainy season. The drains have been covered but there is a foul-smelling in the air near the drains. The reason is unknown. It might be caused due to leakage in any of the sewage pipes.
As per the existing status quo, the in-time rules are stringent for the girl’s hostel. According to the current regulations, a boarder is allowed three late entries per semester, exceeding which compels the authorities to inform the guardian of the boarder concerned. Recently a new modification has been made in the rules wherein the boarders would be required to submit their ID cards in the first late entry itself. Later they would have to collect their ID cards from the Warden’s Office upon producing a ‘valid and convincing’ reason behind the new entry. Earlier students were only supposed to show it to the security personnel, whenever required but never submit. This decision has caused considerable resentment among most of the boarders. It is creating a hindrance in their day to day activities which needs them to stay away for late nights; especially for MTech and Architecture students. Reasons behind staying out for late nights to include projects, assignments and club tasks.
On being enquired about this new initiative to the Warden, Prof.Kakoli, she mentioned:
This step has been taken to ensure absolute safety and security of the boarders. This decision does not aim at clipping their freedom. In case anyone wishes to stay late after 11 pm, they can do so by taking prior permission from me. They can submit me an application mentioning the appropriate reason behind their delay. Still, if the decision is unsatisfactory for the boarders, the floor is open for all kinds of viable suggestions.
In a similar scenario, it was found that the terraces of all the blocks had been closed. Boarders were finding it difficult to dry their clothes or refresh themselves after a daylong schedule. Boarders were highly dissatisfied with this decision. Prof.Kakoli was requested to give her views on it, but she failed at justifying her decision. On further request, she agreed to undo her decision supplemented with a compromise. The terraces would now remain open from morning 6 am to 10 pm in the night. However, B block which has been wholly occupied by the 1st year undergraduates has been exempted from this re-decision.
SPORTS AND RECREATION:
Recreation is an essential part of a student’s life. They serve as instruments to clear off the boarder’s clogged minds after a hectic schedule of 8 am to 5 pm. KMS has provisions to do the needful, but they are found in a sorry state of affairs.
There is a badminton court in front of the B Block which lies in a neglected state of affairs. It stands waterlogged during rainy days, thus hindering the students to play over there. The basketball court lacks nets in the hogs. Sports and gym equipment in the standard room are all broken. Even sports equipment like Badminton racket, tennis rackets and table tennis rackets are not available for the students to use. Sincere efforts are being taken to restore the current state into a well furnished one.
Reptiles like snakes have often been spotted inside the hostel premises. They were seen near the B Block and the Warden’s office by a few of the boarders. It imposes a significant threat to the safety and security of the boarders. On enquiring the warden about the steps taken to curb it, she said that she had asked the gardener and associated people to spray carbolic acid and phenol all over the grasses. He has also been asked to prune the grasses properly and then do as has been mentioned above.
As for the B Block, four students have been allotted the three seater rooms. It has only 3 LAN ports and 3 shelves. Boarders are facing difficulty in adjusting themselves amidst a backdrop of insufficiency. Few of the rooms in A block have been affected with white ants. Students have registered their complaints, and they have been ensured that their cries will be heard soon. They have assured that they would apply putty over the walls to do away with the termites.
The reading room in B Block lays unattended with insufficient chairs for the corresponding number of tables. Fans have not been installed in all the sockets. Bookshelves are empty. The room was supposed to have been air-conditioned a couple of years ago.
On being enquired about the current status, the warden Prof.Kakoli says that:
20 chairs have been ordered and they will soon be installed at their requisite positions. Moreover, as per the Chief Warden's order, the room will be very soon air conditioned.
Water coolers in A and B Block malfunction in a few of the occasions. It compels the boarders to rush to C and D blocks to get their bottles filled; but they are promptly dealt with, thus restoring to their original states.
As a welcome initiative, newspapers like Times of India, The Telegraph, and The New Indian Express are installed in the paper stand at B Block. It keeps the boarders updated with the latest happenings across the globe.
Ex-General Secretary speaks:
On being queried about the issues she faced and the steps she took to overcome them during her tenure of being the General Secretary of Kiran Mazumdar Shaw Hall of Residence, Yasmin Kukul, the Ex-General Secretary says,
Being one of the smallest Halls of Residence, we have always been restricted by the budget. Every function that was organized or every repair work undertaken had to be on a limited budget. Moreso because in the previous academic year, the wages of all the workers had increased and most of the allotted budget was spent in paying them. We had long-standing issues with the caterers and most of the boarders weren't satisfied by whatever changes were tried to be accommodated. There was also an issue with the electrical ampere capacity of C and D blocks and devices while charging were getting tripped. We had appealed to the authorities to increase the amperage but since it would have required all the wiring to be changed, nothing substantial was done; only a damaged set of wires was replaced. These were the major problems that we faced, that I hope would not crop up again this year.