Dismal tale of Sinks and Stinks : NITR's Sanitation Scenario
Sanitation or the lack thereof has become a perpetually contentious issue at NIT Rourkela. With one of the largest campus’ in the country, cleanliness is an important issue which affects everyone at the campus and is crucial to maintain viable ambience and can be the difference between pleasant or nightmarish living conditions. The same goes for sanitation in the academic area where the students spend the better part of their day, so it is absolutely essential to ensure hygiene conditions to be at a good standing.
Team MM undertook the arduous task of reviewing the facilities; the state of cleanliness and hygiene throughout this expansive campus. Including but not limited to the residential area, the academic area covering twenty-five plus buildings. We initially conducted a survey about the current state of affairs from the NITR junta asking them about the number of washrooms and restrooms at their hostels, working of fittings and their present state, the frequency of cleaning of rooms, hygiene of mess workers; so on and so forth. Furthermore, we visited the various departments including the main building and library and as such miscellaneous buildings to inspect the prevalent state of the restrooms taking photographs whenever feasible
Next up, based on the responses to the survey we interviewed the Chief Warden Prof S.K. Pratihar about the status quo and queried him with a volley of questions of the aforementioned issue and then some. We interviewed the PIC of sanitation Prof Prakash Nath Vishwakarma for the academic area and recorded his response regarding the same.
SANITATION IN THE ACADEMIC AREA
Students spend about 9 hours in the academic area; hence sanitation there is of paramount importance. In the academic area, it normally involves the cleanliness in classrooms, washrooms and, areas around the water cooler.
We surveyed various departments and buildings and found many shortcomings in the sanitation grounds.
Most of the washrooms lacked mugs and buckets, and if they had them, they were mostly too old or worn out. Some washrooms even had plastic bottles being used as mugs. In some departments, the washrooms would end up having a foul smell due to lack of cleaning. Furthermore, the water cooler areas are very dirty, and most water coolers are normally installed right next to the washroom which isn’t feasible. In one of the departments, the drainage pipe to a sink right next to the water cooler was left open which wasn't a pleasing sight.
We walked into most of the departments on campus, we counted and inspected the number of washrooms for boys and girls.
We interviewed a few students, and this is what they had to say:
Luv Krishna, B-tech Second year Ceramic Engineering department.
The washrooms in the ceramic department are cleaned regularly and they are in good condition.”
Harsh Bhudolia, B-tech Second year Computer Science department.
Some of the toilets are dysfunctional and a bit more cleanliness would be better. And they should have handwash in the washrooms.
Amlan Sahoo, B-tech Second year Electronics and Communication department.
Washrooms in the department are clean, however in LA and the department, the taps are too close to the edge of the sink which causes the water to flow to the side if the sink rather than the centre.
Rashmita Pulsam, B-tech second year Ceramic Department.
The washrooms in LA do not have mugs and buckets which causes major inconveniences. In fact I have seen plastic bottles and Maggi Cuppa Mania cups for use as a mug.
Umme Salma, B-tech second year Electrical department.
The washrooms In LA are never clean, sometimes there is no water. And in some washrooms there are no mugs. The washrooms in the electrical department are satisfactory.
Mohammed Anas, B-Tech second year, Department of Civil engineering said
The state of washrooms in main building is not up to the mark with many of the washrooms lacking any sort of mug or faucet which has been a thorny point for us.
A Word from the authorities
Team MM interviewed the recently appointed PIC (Person in Charge) of sanitation for the academic area Prakash Nath Vishwakarma. He shed some light on the cleaning scenario in the academic area:
MM: Since you are the PIC for sanitation how do you ensure that cleaning actually takes place?
PNV: It is not feasible for me to visit every building and department so I depend on the PICs and HODs respectively. Since my office is in the main building, I oversee that cleaning happens in the main building. In case if I get a complaint from one of the departments or buildings, I personally visit there and I immediately question the contractors on why the cleaning isn’t taking place.
MM: How many contractors are you presently working with? And how do you ensure that their work is up to the mark?
PNV: We have two contractors covering the academic area only. One of the contracts has expired and we have already sent out advertisements for a new contractor way in advance and depending on whoever has the lowest tender, the contract will be given to them.
Regarding their quality of work, they have to meet the requirements of the contract and in case if they fail in doing so, money is deducted from the monthly payment.
MM: What is the ground rule on how often the classrooms and washrooms need to be cleaned in a day?
PNV: Classrooms should be cleaned once a day and washrooms should be cleaned twice a day.
MM: In case if a student needs to complain about poor sanitation conditions in the academic area, who should the student report to?
PNV: The student should approach their respective HODs and for first years they should report to the PIC of LA (Prof. Hare Krishna Sahoo)
MM: Most of the water cooler areas aren’t very clean and they end up being in near washrooms which isn’t very right on sanitation grounds. What can you do about this?
PNV: I am hearing about this for the first time. The area around the around the water coolers can definitely be cleaned. And about the positioning, at the time of installation, the water point must have been present only in that particular place, therefore, the water coolers are placed where they are placed now. However, this problem can be rectified by using extension pipes so that the coolers can be repositioned.
MM: How much money is spent annually on sanitation and hygiene?
PNV: For the academic year 2018-2019 1.5 Crores has been sanctioned toward sanitation. So on an average ten lakhs per month is spent on cleaning.
MM: Most of the washrooms don’t have mugs and buckets. Even if they have, they are very old. Is it possible to have them any time soon?
PNV: If the budget permits us then putting buckets and in washrooms is not a problem. This would only be possible in buildings. In departments, it is up to the HOD to buy new buckets and mugs, because every department has its own budget.
MM: Most of the toilets and sinks are very old, is it possible to renovate them soon?
PNV: The building works committee is responsible for renovations. Concerned PICs and HODs forward a written request to the estate office, a survey is done and a budget is made. Thereafter it is put forward to the building works committee who approve of it and the renovation is done. So unless the PICs and HODs don’t request for renovation it will not be done.
MM: It seems that you are mostly unaware of sanitation shortcomings since you depend on HODs and PICs to report to you. HODs and PICs already have their hand full. So don’t you think that each and every department and building should come up with a PIC for sanitation to do away with the lag in communication?
PNV: Inter-departmental posts are created by the HODs. I can write an email to HODs about this suggestion and we can take it up from there.
MM: Do you carry out sanitation inspections? How often?
PNV: The bill is passed every month. And we depend on the data received by various departments, if they report that cleaning isn’t done then we go for an inspection.
MM: Anything you would like to say on your end as the PIC of sanitation.
PNV: Sanitation is the responsibility of everyone on campus, most of the time, students do not use washrooms responsibly and they don’t make use of litter bins on campus. So in order to keep NITR clean, it should be a combined effort from the authorities and students side.
Sanitation in the hostels
The institute has currently ten halls of residence in the campus. The halls being the abode for the budding future of the society, the sanitation becomes an essential priority to be taken care of as it concerns the health and hygiene of the boarders. Moreover, it also influences the quality of living of the dwellers. In a recent survey conducted by MM on hostel sanitation, the students expressed their complaints and comments on the different aspects related to the present condition of their respective halls.
People have complained that there are some corridors in the hostels which do not have any washrooms at all. And, on the floors that have got them, it is hard to find all of them in functional condition. 90% of the responses insisted that the washrooms lack in fittings and regular maintenance. The doors of the bathrooms are often found broken and the toilets often run out of water owing to the broken taps. Again only a few of the washrooms have got the geysers installed in them and moreover, all of them are not functional at all, which makes it really unbearable to take showers before the morning classes in the months of winter. Addressing the issue, Institute Chief Warden Swadesh Kumar Pratihar said,
I am not well aware of the fact. We only got complaints about the doors in CVR that there were problems in the fittings of the door-latch system. We fixed some of them. We provide carpenters, electricians and plumbers to fix the issues of the boarders. At first, you call and if he doesn’t fix it, go to the warden of your hostel or come to me.
The borders seem to be in trouble with the number of water coolers installed in their hostels, which is not up to the mark. Again, if there are some, due to lack of maintenance you would not find all of them functional. There have been some cases that when the boarders complained about the non-functioning of the water cooler, they were taken away and neither replaced nor repaired. In this regard, S. K. Pratihar clarified,
Purchasing water coolers at NITRKL, that too in the hostels is really a difficult job. All purchases and repairs under my guidance are only limited to 5000 rupees. The purchases beyond that limit require different institute procedure, which I am actually not aware of. Moreover, talking about the recent curtain issue raised by the boarders, these are the issues supposed to improve the quality of living of the hostel-boarders. There are a lot of other major problems which are in dire need to be taken care of.
Despite spraying of insecticides once a week in each of the hostels, insects and animals have turned out to be the most frequent trespassers into the halls. There are instances of snakes being seen in the halls’ premises too. But the worst part has been the disturbance created by the dogs (and mice in the VS hall) who invade through the small holes in the walls along the hall boundaries. They are often seen either playing with the boarders’ clothes and shoes or occupying the washrooms. Their midnight barks often end up awakening the whole hostel.
According to the rules, the rooms of the hostels are to be swept at least once or twice a week, as confirmed by the CW (chief warden). But, there have been reports that in some of the hostels the sweepers do not do that regularly in spite of repeated requests by the boarders. GDB, VS and MSS are three hostels where this problem is faced at an extreme.
There are few hostels in the campus which have been found to have seepages in the ceiling of the rooms on the top floors (mainly SD and MSS). Leaks are found here and there in the hall premises. In the rainy season, it becomes hard to walk through the corridors without slipping.
Mess plays a huge role when it comes to the hygiene of the hostel. The mess food is the main source of nutrition for the boarders. So, it is imperative that the messes are cleaned on a regular basis and the cutleries provided for the meal are clean. Unfortunately, there have been issues with the mess sanitation too. Students have reported that they found insects in their food. The mess shared by DBA and MSS is in the worst condition to say. The staffs are often seen working without gloves and aprons in the mess. On being asked to put them on, they reply, “Garmi lagta hai bhaiya.” (Translation- “It’s too hot already, it feels uneasy to wear them.”)
On being asked about the amount of annual budget allocated to the hostels for maintenance, S. K. Pratihar said,
I don’t know the actual amount of money that comes from the institute to the chief warden’s fund. It depends on the requirement. There is no fixed budget for that. Sometimes it is just zero and sometimes it goes up to ten crores.
1. Recently, there was a mail from the chief warden that he is going to form an advisory committee consisting of 1-2 students from each hall. The committee will inform him about the problems of the respective halls.
2. KMS is going to have a washing-machine facility for washing boarders’ clothes providing a free of cost service( not pay and use)(according to the chief warden).
3. S. K. Pratihar also said that there has been a fund for the renovation of the washrooms of the halls amounting around 3 or 4 crores. It is still under process.
Statistics of the survey on hostel sanitation:
1. Ratings of the washrooms in terms of cleanliness:
2. Are there proper fittings in the washrooms in your corridor:
3. Do you think that the washrooms are equipped with all the necessary accessories?
4. Ratings for the cleanliness in the hostel corridor?
5. Do the mess workers always have gloves and caps when working?
6. In the mess do you always get clean cutlery?
7. Do you find the hand washing area and the water-coolers maintained well enough?
8. Have you ever found insects in your food?
As it stands right now, the state of hygiene at NITR is dismal at worst and barely passable at best which is a worrying development since it's something absolutely essential to ensure a good upstanding. At the same time, the administration is taking numerous steps to improve the status quo with a renovation of multiple hostels set to happen in the not too distant future. Team MM requests the administration to ensure a high standard of cleanliness throughout NITR.