Of Bitter Medicines

The new academic year has finally struck in the air of NITR and the populace is eagerly waiting for some favorable winds to blow in their direction, with crossed fingers. With goals and high expectations, the entire campus revs up to a new start. While the old problems still persist, some changes have been welcome. The beginning of the semester has been dogged by allotment and mess issues. Team MM caught up with the Chief Warden, Prof. R K Patel, to address some pressing issues that have affected the entire NITR junta in the form of a crisp, curious & creative interview.


MM: For this maiden issue of Chief Warden’s Column, we would like to ask you about the initial developments planned in the hostel areas during this academic year.

CW: Our first agenda is to improve hygienic condition of dining hall, cleanliness will be focused on, and dress codes have been assigned to all the caterers as approved by the Director. For this rigorous monitoring is required. A commercial washing machine has been supplied to laundry-men to facilitate the stay of boarders. Pesticide spray would be taken up more frequently. The mess timings & the in-time of the ladies hostel would be followed in a more stern &strict way.


MM: Tell us something about the upcoming hall elections & the first HMC meeting.

CW: The elections will be conducted in the first week of August, while the first HMC meeting will be over by 10th of August. The agenda of the meeting would be timings of the night canteen & problems related to maintenance.


MM: What are your views regarding the debatable quality of food in the night canteen of various halls?

CW: The HMC would decide on the list and rates of items available in the Night Canteen which would be common for all the hostels. The quality of the food would be monitored frequently and if there is a serious complaint, the contract will be terminated. We will look over the possibility of increasing the contract for around two years, which will definitely helpful in the future prospects. There will new night canteen stalls established in CVR, VS and SD Halls of Residence, near the main gate of the respective halls.

MM: The BEST has been replaced by Night Canteen in MSS, which served the purpose of basic stationary. So how are you planning to compensate?

CW: Since, there are two night-canteens operating side-by-side in MSS & DBA halls of Residence, which is depleting the growth of one of the night-canteens, we will discuss on the plan of establishing the night canteen and the BEST side-by-side (as suggested by MM) , which if approved in the next HMC, will be undertaken, thus making the stay of boarders very comfortable in the hostels.


MM: The evening snacks have been ruled out from the mess menu entirely. What was the reason behind this move?

CW: The budget of evening snacks was very meek costing Rs.10 only, which could not satisfy the needs of the boarders. Many of the M.Tech and PhD students had given in writing regarding this issue, so the snacks were done away with. It is an administrative decision and, as the prices of commodities have gone up, it became an utter necessity to take this step.  

MM: There was an assurance regarding a national caterer for the mess, but it was rejected. What led to this decision?

CW: It was rejected owing to the high prices quoted by the Sodexo, the national caterers which Rs.135 as compared to the current price of Rs.86 per day. They provided a rigid menu which was in contrast to the current system of our institute where the students are entrusted with the power to decide the menu. More or less the menu would have been compromised, but the price quote by the Sodexo was too much to be accepted.


MM: The maintenance problem is still an issue in all the hostels. Please elaborate on the maintenance work during the summers.

CW: All fans were repaired and are to be replaced to prevent the mishap that happened in the previous semester. All electrical fittings were checked completely. Regarding the white-washing, the work has been assigned to the Estate Office since the civil work cannot be undertaken by the hostel authorities. It is in progress in some of the hostels. I request the boarders through MM to report the complaints of urgent attention in the complaints register inside the CWO and it will be taken care of as quickly as possible. For carpentry work, there is only one person, so the work takes some time. The broken doors and window panes will be replaced as soon as possible. Regarding the Aqua Guards, we will focus on maintenance for which the information should be conveyed directly to CW, & we assure that the aqua guards will be maintained frequently.

MM: Boarders in DBA are deprived of the LAN connection. What steps are to be taken in this direction?

CW: The work on installation of routers started two days ago. It will not be a problem anymore. The routers will be fitted. But, regarding the LAN, I have taken up the issue with the computer center time and again. Now, the head of CC has changed and is working towards the restoration. But he has mentioned some technical problems. However, they are putting sufficient number of routers in DBA, MV and CVR. Within two or three days, more number of routers will certainly be installed.


MM: What are your views regarding the ambiguous condition of room allotment in hostels?

CW: The problem arose from the VS Hall and spread around all the hostels. The confusion regarding allotments was due to groups of boarders not agreeing to the decision of CWO. The Director was consulted regarding this matter, on which he said, "It is a national institute so should have a national character";the national character being, in each wing all type of students should be residing starting from B.Tech to PhD and as per the practice first come first serve would be followed, this would maintain a national character. The problems have been noted and will be discussed in the upcoming HMC meetings. A thorough policy would be constructed for the re-allotment of rooms which will be decided by a committee. We would mostly follow the minimum shifting policy. In the meanwhile, the dust of the room allotment issue has settled down. We would like to thank the boarders for cooperating in this period of mayhem.

MM: The solution of surveillance camera in cycle stands has not yet been established and the problem of stolen laptops has not yet been resolved. How can the situation be improved?

CW: Regarding this, a committee has been constituted by the Director, where the Dean (Faculty) is the chairman. I and the Chief Security Officer are also a member. We will have a meeting to discuss the required number of surveillance cameras required. The number will be decided and put forward to the higher authority for the sanction which is in the agenda. Considering the laptop thefts, they are being registered with the computer center which is a thought-about solution. It is a request from CW’s side through MM to the Technocrats of NITR to develop a system so that we can at least track the laptops, and it is very much possible.


MM: The ever increasing number of dogs in hall area has been a major issue of concern. So what steps are being taken regarding this problem?

CW:The local municipality has been assigned the work of catching the dogs. We are aware of the discomforts, there have been many letters to the municipality in these regard but we are falling short of a veterinary doctor. We have a dog squad which is very inactive owing to the lack of doctor, so we are planning to find out a viable solution since we cannot kill the dogs.

MM: Chairs in common room, Graffiti, color coding of the blocks & music room of all hostels are some of the pending issues. Please explain the progress of these pending issues?

CW:The tender for chairs has been accepted, the procurement order has been already placed with the seller and chairs will arrive shortly. It will be supplied within seven days. The issue related to music room will be resolved shortly after a meeting with the wardens before the elections. As for the color coding, for each hall we have the layout and the design, which needs refinement and experienced personnel will be placed for the job which may take another month. Graffiti walls, as suggested by MM, was approved in the HMC but there are some issues which will be sorted soon.

MM: We have received information concerning air cooling system in hall mess. Please say us more about it.

CW: I have not actually inquired of it, but a Professor from Mechanical Department and Mr. Rao from Civil Associates are looking after this which will be confirmed by Monday, this air cooling system is different from the central air conditioning system which is different for different hostels. 

MM: Recently we were informed by the Food Inspector that new insect repellent machines will be installed in VS Hall mess. What’s the progress on that matter?

CW: Some of the insect-repellents which have been broken have been sent for repair while some other new ones have been installed in the mess. I will discuss with the Food Inspector and let you know.