New Residents, Same Old Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya
Another year, another batch of incoming excited freshmen, same old Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya hall of residence. The iconic hostel along with Ghanshyam Das Birla hall of residence has housed all the male students of NIT Rourkela at least once and is associated with fond and cherished memories. With the end of the autumn semester soon approaching, team Monday Morning brings to you a comprehensive review of M.V. hall of residence.
CURRENT STATE OF AFFAIRS
Often criticised because of the small-sized rooms, the hall houses about 438 students including the freshmen B.tech, M.Tech boys and few PhD scholars. The entire hall gets divided into three blocks. A block contains 84 dwelling rooms and the other two blocks, B and C comprise 90 rooms each. While the majority of the rooms in A and B block has been allotted for two boarders each, the rooms in C block has been occupied by M.Tech and PhD scholars and are single-seated.
As per the information received, the hall has been allocated approximately 10.5 lakh for the Autumn Semester 2018-19 that would take care of the maintenance, hygiene, procurement of sports equipment and other facilities that are being provided to the boarders. The rooms in MV Hall are tiny and face considerable criticism; each room has been equipped with two cots, two tables and one chair each with open shelves. While each window in the rooms has been provided with curtains, the rooms in the two upper floors lack grills in the window which has been claimed to cause huge issues. Each room has been provided with 2 LAN ports each, but unfortunately only one of the two LAN ports is operational; although this issue has been highlighted since last year, we could not see any successful accomplishment in solving the crisis.
The hall of residence has a lawn at its front that is well maintained and taken care of. The blooming, colourful flowers amidst the lush green grasses provide a soothing sight, but there are no seating facilities inside the garden unlike the fellow halls of residence.
While surveying, ironically we found the glasses above the door in the room of Maintenance Secretary itself to be broken and due to be repaired for a long time. Most of the windows need repair and new installments, but the administration seems very dormant in solving this fiasco. According to the General Secretary:
I personally put forward this issue of repairing of windows and installing of grills in the remaining window in the hall, but every administrative process is prolonged, and hence every issue takes months to be resolved. We look forward to an easier and faster administrative process.
Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya hall of residence shares a common mess (Prof RN Patel Cafeteria) with the only other exclusive first-year boys hall of residence, Ghanshyam Das Birla.
When asked about the size, 72.3 percent of MV boarders found the mess to be large enough to accommodate all the hostelers comfortably. While a small percentage of students didn’t feel the mess was roomy enough, an even smaller minority felt that although the seating arrangement in the mess is sufficient, the area near the counter where the students queue up to get their food is not properly managed and causes a lot of disturbance, in this area, lies a major problem hampering the efficiency of the first year mess. The mess has 25 small 6-seater tables, 21 large 10-seater tables capable of seating 360 students.
The mess is well lit, ventilated and quite airy. The mess is equipped with 42 fans (8 non-working), 17 windows, and 28 exhausts which ensure that the student filled hall never gets suffocating to stay in and provides the students with a comfortable environment.
When the students were asked to rate the overall cleanliness of the mess from a scale of (1-10), the response ranged from mixed to good with approximately 28 percent of the boarders rating it an 8. Roughly 21.5 percent of the students gave a rating of 5 and below and about 2.5 percent giving it a perfect 10.
Where the hygiene of the worker handling the food was concerned, the opinion of the students was near-evenly split with nearly 39.1 percent of the student population stating that they thought that the workers neglected their hygiene and thus compromised the cleanliness of the food they served.
A mess is only as good as its food. Keeping that in mind, Team Monday Morning collected responses from the students sharing their opinion on how they like the food in the R. N. Patel Cafeteria.
The majority of students (about 46 percent) found the food to be satisfactory and good enough. Approximately 48 percent considered the food to range from good to very good while roughly 6.6 percent of the students felt that the food was not suitable for consumption.
The mess scenario in the freshmen hall of residence remains as positive as ever with the majority of the resident body of MV happy with the way how the hall takes care of their food consumption needs.
HEALTH AND HYGIENE:
The corridors are cleaned every day while the rooms are cleaned once a week, either on Saturday or Sunday. The bathrooms are cleaned twice a day with the use of disinfectant and toilet cleaners. While the overall cleanliness of the hall is satisfactory and is much better than most of the other halls of residence, there is scope for improvement in maintenance of the bathrooms. In many of the showers, the shower-heads are dysfunctional, the slabs or partition between the urinals are missing in many bathrooms, and the geyser is non-functional in one of the toilets. Out of the 12 bathrooms, six bathrooms have been renovated recently, and the work has been delayed due to the non-cooperative attitude of the contractor.
While Rs. 18,000 is being invested per month for the maintenance of the garden and cleaning of grasses and shrubs; we saw the regions between two blocks, especially between B and C block are not appropriately maintained with grasses growing into bushes and shrubs. This has encouraged the thriving of mosquitoes and other harmful insects that has been an issue for the boarders. Along with the insect manifestation, the hall also suffers from dog menace. The stray dogs are a reason of burden because they have been reportedly causing nuisance in the past and have been responsible for damaging the clothes hung in the verandah.
Most of the aqua-guards are in running condition but demands regular cleaning and maintenance. Reportedly, sometimes the water coolers stop working efficiently, and hence boarders face the issue of drinking water.
SPORTS AND GYMMING:
The Chief Warden Office sanctioned about Rs. 25000 for the procurement of sports equipment and the money has been utilized for the purchase of many sports kits and equipment. The sports room is situated inside the warden office, and the students need to collect sports items through the Sports Secretary. But there have been demands of purchase of several other types of equipment, and the requirements have been put forth before the Chief Warden for a long time.
The hall has two outdoor badminton courts which lack adequate maintenance. A volleyball court has also been set up inside the hostel premises, which after deliberate applications and appeals seems to be in satisfactory condition. Table Tennis tables have been set up inside the common room itself, out of which one of the tables is in the dilapidated stage.
The gym was set up one year ago inside the hall that provides minimal opportunities for exercise and workouts. Although the gym is regular in its operation, it lacks advanced gym equipment and tools.
One of the boarders, Mahesh Prasad Pati, shares his opinions on the sports facilities:
We are happy with the set up of the volleyball court, and the badminton courts are also in a condition to play. Although the gym is spacious, it lacks some vital equipment including trade mills. The state of the table tennis tables is worse where one of them is already broken.
1. COMMON AND READING ROOM:
There is a single common room near the Warden Office that consists of a few chairs and a television. There have been issues regarding the maintenance of fans and lights in the common room as well. The Reading room is attached to the common room which demands urgent maintenance. Reportedly not many fans and lights are in operational condition; there is a lack of chairs in the reading room which make it unsuitable for the very purpose of its existence. The reading room is extremely small that could accommodate hardly 15-20 students at a single time.
2. CYCLE STAND
A well maintained common cycle stand for the boarders of MV and GDB Halls of Residence caters to the needs of the boarders. Although there are no formal complaints regarding the missing of cycles, we received few cases where cycles have been either misplaced or stolen.
3. NIGHT AND DAY CANTEEN:
MV Hall shares two-night canteens along with GDB Hall of Residence. The night canteens provide services from 4:00 PM and extend till 1:30 AM. The night canteen area also suffers from the menace of dogs, and sometimes the situation could be threatening as well. Although the hall lacked Day Canteen in the previous year, a day canteen was operational in this academic year but has been non-functional since Durga Puja Vacations.
The Hall also contains a stationery shop situated in the A Block and has a “Washing Machine Room” which has been in non-functional condition since years.
One of the boarders Akshat Sitani sums up his experience as a resident in MV Hall:
The rooms of MV are very small compared to other halls, and it's very congested for two people to live together where we have to share common open shelves We have less number of aqua-guards, and many of us have to go very far to fill water. Most of the bathroom showers lack the shower head, and the slabs between the urinals are broken in some bathrooms. Students living on the ground floor are facing problems due to insect-infestation, and we have an awful reading room and common room. Fans and lights don't work in the reading room. It's very small, and only a few table chairs are present. There are two Table Tennis tables out of which one is of wrong dimensions, and the other one is broken.
Sitting Down With The Warden
To gain more insight into the problems faced by the residents of the hall and the course of action planned by the authorities, team Monday Morning sat down with the recently appointed Warden of M.V. hall of residence, Prof. Saurav Datta.
Monday Morning: How has been your experience so far as the warden of the hostel? What changes did or didn't materialise as you had hoped?
Warden: I took over as the warden last July, so I'm still new at this job. In my experience, the main challenges I faced were during admission time, i.e., in July and August. New first-year students are admitted, and the parents are leaving their children for the first time alone, so I always keep getting phone calls from parents and children which is obvious but also during these two months I have a packed schedule, and I cannot give enough time to my scholars. Most of my time in these two months go to the hostel. The experience has been good, but to some extent, it is a thankless job. In the past four months I have already taken 7 boarders to the hospital, sometimes after midnight and after their recovery when they come back from the hospital, they even forget to say thank you, hence I called it a thankless job, but the institute has assigned me this job and so I will do my two years.
Regarding changes, the major problem in all the halls and not just MV is the estate problem. The estate work has been progressing slowly as only one person is taking care of all the hostels. I believe there should be a dedicated estate personnel looking after the hostels, but the proposal hasn’t yet been materialized. Regarding the mess, we have the best caterer which should be the case for first years as the first impression is the last impression. We don’t have any complaints regarding the mess.
MM: Do you have any new plans in store regarding the development of MV?
W: Regarding new changes, my hands are tied because the previous warden took a massive loan from the chief warden fund to open a gym. As a result, we are currently running on a negative budget which has to be recovered during my tenure, but I have requested the chief warden to deduct the money year after year in intervals. In this limited budget, I have to do volleyball and badminton court renovation; we have also recently purchased sports items, conducted garden fest and also have plans for holding several competitions and activities.
MM: What are the current undergoing projects and plans and when are they expected to be completed?
W: Currently we are undergoing the renovation of all the toilets. The estate work started before the Puja vacations and as I have mentioned before is still going on, and I don’t know till when it will be completed as it is going slowly. We also have an institute level change for all the halls, that is, the kitchens will be upgraded to modular kitchens. The estate personnel has stacked all the utensils for modular kitchen inside the hall, and this is creating problems for the mess people, but we don’t know when exactly will it be installed. I am repeatedly sending requests for the same. Every day my first task is to send a mail and a hard copy to the estate office and the chief warden office.
MM: What are the estate problems the hall is facing and when will they be fixed?
W: As I have mentioned before, the estate work is progressing slowly due to lack of manpower. There are some construction-related problems which you cannot solve, for example, in the cycle stand there is a lot of seepages but the cause of the seepage and where the water is coming from, we don’t know. So even if we remove the plaster and reconstruct it, the problem is solved temporarily, but after a few months, the problem resurfaces. The only solution is to tear down the entire foundation and rebuild it which is not possible, so we have to manage. Another issue is that the Rourkela soil is not good, so all the doors and windows are infected with termites. As a result, we face many complaints and suggestions to spray insecticides and chemicals. These remedies will have a temporary effect, but they cannot eliminate the problem.
MM: What steps have you taken or plan to, regarding the constant proliferation of insects and especially in rooms?
W: One reason for this is that the doors and windows are ancient. If the institute does a renovation of the doors and windows every few years, it will solve the issue to some extent. Since I have arrived, I have sent many complaints and requisitions regarding this issue, and to some extent they have been responded to, still many things are pending.
MM: What about the renovation of Badminton courts and indoor games since they were sanctioned in the previous budget? Are they going to be renovated since they are in a dilapidated shape?
W: This problem has now been rectified. I have purchased new sports items, and the volleyball and badminton courts have also been renovated.
MM: When will there be a restoration of a fully functioning day canteen since it's long overdue?
W: We don’t have any provision for a day canteen, we only have a juice centre where you can get juice, tea, coffee, bread, omelette etc. The boarders should submit a proposal for a day canteen if they want one but I don't think we have any space for a day canteen.
MM: There have been issues regarding the unnecessary locking up of cycles of various students without any forewarning.
W: The cycles are locked due to the mistakes of the students. If the students park their cycles near the entrance instead of the cycle stand, I have instructed the security person to lock the cycles. If a student finds his cycle to be locked, they then have to come to me, write an application, attach a photocopy of their I-card, cycle bill and only then do I tell the security guard to unlock the cycle. The students should realise why the cycles have been locked and take care not to park them haphazardly in the future.
MM: What is your vision for this hall of residence? What are your primary goals to accomplish as the Warden by the end of the academic year?
W: I have a vision, but I don’t know to what extent it will be materialised. One is a renovation of the reading room where I also want to install an Air Conditioner. Number two is in the garden area, where want to install steel benches for the students to sit. But due to the budget constraints, I don’t know to what extent I would be able to accomplish this. Still, I am managing decently, and the asst. warden Prof. Anil Singh is very efficient but his tenure will be completed next June. After which, I might have to get very busy again.
While not without its share of problems, the hall of residence harbors a happy resident body. There have been some hiccups along the way of development but the resilient old building continues to strive to better itself and make itself more hospitable for its boarders. With some minor changes over the years and a few expected this year, Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya hall of residence slowly but surely betters as time goes on.