The Road Ahead: A Follow-up on HAIF
The Story So Far:
In one of its recent issues, Team MM had raised concerns regarding the fee hike of 2500 INR per semester, under the head of Establishment Fees, towards the Hall Activities and Improved Facilities (HAIF). We had presented to you, a detailed report on the uproar that had followed, and the explanations that were provided as to why there was an increment in the amount.
As per trustworthy sources, the fees were raised to meet the two major objectives:
- To meet the deficit of a few crores, which the institute was running short of since the last few years.
- To install curtains and central water heating system in all the Halls of Residence, to purchase cots for the newly built SD Hall of Residence, to employ more security guards and cleaning staff at the same and meet with the hike in their salaries
Now, midway into the odd semester, even though the tumult against the fee hike has subdued, yet there are analyses to be done about the status of the amount collected, and whether or not, it is being useful to tackle the issues that it was meant to. In this regard, Team MM decided to look into the matter systematically by collecting data and information from the General Secretaries of all the Halls of Residences and from the Chief Warden.
Transformations and Stagnancy
According to the data provided by the General Secretaries of the Halls of Residences, the following changes have been observed since the beginning of the semester through today:
In the SD Hall of Residence, filters have been installed, aqua guards changed and water coolers have been mended. The hall still lacks sports equipments, which haven't arrived even after ordering, and it is indeed a matter of concern with several Inter-Hall tournaments being scheduled in the upcoming days. The Gymnasium has been in construction mode for a long time. SD Hall, being the newest hall on campus, did not have furniture or cots. This requirement was to be met under the HAIF money; however, the several of the rooms in the hall still lack cots and tables. Talks rife about allotment of security personnel for SD has been achieved. There also has been a hike in their salaries as per the norms of Central Government.
Installation of curtains has been planned to begin from HB and VS Halls of Residences.
In the MSS Hall of Residence, grills have been planned to be installed in front of the window in each room, after which curtain installation would take place. A notice has been issued informing boarders to cooperate with the workers while installing grills in rooms.
In the CVR Hall of Residence, there haven’t been any significant changes from the HAIF money. There hasn’t been any increase in the number of cleaning personnel and the plan to install curtains is on the cards.
Curtain installation had been finished in the KMS Hall of Residence, during the last academic year. However the bills hadn't been tendered, and this now would be paid using the HAIF amount. There is a negative balance and a fund crunch in the hall budget due to which the entire hall has just three cleaning workers. The wages of the mess workers and the cleaning personnel, however, has increased. Repair work of geysers hasn't started yet.
MV and GDB Halls of Residences are the only Halls where the proposed work is absolutely complete, including curtain installation. MV Hall has also received water heating systems.
In DBA, mosquito repellents and pesticides are being sprayed regularly but curtains haven't been installed yet. A new badminton court has been constructed and entry points have been fitted with dog nets to curb dog menace. The authorities have fulfilled their promise by mending the damaged geysers and replacing the outdated ones.
Chief Warden Speaks
Team MM, in an attempt to gain further insight into the HAIF money related progress, caught up with the Chief Warden, Prof. S.K. Patel.
A Clearer Picture as given by Prof. Patel:
Until last year, 1800 INR (from the Establishment fees collected per boarder), used to be supplied from Chief Warden’s office to Halls for their maintenance and various hall functions. The last time these fees were hiked was way back in 2011 and since then there had been no revision. In the meanwhile, prices of commodities increased and the wages of the security personnel, cleaning staff, common room bearers, maintenance staff were hiked. For the first two years, the institute was able to meet the expenditure after which the financial account of Halls started going into a negative balance. There was a constant effort to increase the establishment fee by 500 INR per semester since a long time, but due to certain limitations, the previous Chief Warden had failed to implement it. To meet this deficit, the extra amount of 2500 INR is being collected from the students, collectively at once and has been added to another head called HAIF which would be collected under the Chief Warden’s Fund.
Heads under which this money was supposed to be used:
The amount collected under HAIF, along with countering the negative balance, was also to meet the demand of gymnasiums, reading room, music rooms, lawns and gardens for the new hostels and a central water heating system in each Hall. Now, with the institute having come up with one more Hall which wasn’t there in picture earlier (S.D. Hall of residence), there is the requirement of furniture, a proper lawn and mess utensils. This expenditure would also be done from the HAIF amount.
Increase in number of staff:
The Chief Warden confirmed that there has been an increase in a number of security personnel. Around 10 number of security guards had been newly employed for SD. Also, there were 8-10 extra security guards deployed during the anti-ragging period, for about 2 months. Salaries have been hiked for both security and cleaning personnel, as should be done per six months according to Minimum Wages Act.
Prof. S.K. Patel gave us a detailed report on the progress of the work related to this amount in each Hall of Residence.
For MV and GDB, curtain installataion had started last year and got completed now. However, the bills hadn't been paid and would be paid from HAIF. For VS, the process has already started and Process Orders have been released. Earlier towards each Hall, 1800 INR was being paid; now it has been increased to 2400 INR. This 600 INR balance is what is going to the respective Halls for improved activities. Water heating systems haven't been installed yet, because of fund crunch. The idea is that all the Halls will have curtains first, then the water heating systems. In CVR curtains have been put up, new lawn water connection pipe line from bore well has been laid out. These bills are being paid now from HAIF collected. Curtains for HB Hall is in procurement stage. One new water coolers are being procured each for HB hall & SD hall. New fly catchers have been bought and supplied to SD hall and KMS hall canteens. All old fly catchers are being repaired.
Reasons for the delay:
The reason behind ample delays in the purchase of furniture for SD Hall is that the government procedure for purchase of furniture is not as simple as going to the market and purchasing on the spot. It’s time consuming. The Chief Warden has to abide by these rules and it is expected that the SD Hall of residence would get the required number of furniture by the beginning of next semester.
Also according to the Chief Warden,
Till date, everyone in the institute has not paid the HAIF. Most of the PG and Ph.D. students are yet to pay the money because the hike was implemented after they had already paid the unrevised fees. We will be collecting double the amount (for the upcoming semester and the previous), during the fee collection next semester. These factors have also contributed to the slow progress of works in several Halls.
Gathering up all the data, what we have presently, is a system that is running on negative balance which definitely calls for some substantial measure, which is being done using a substantial amount of the HAIF money. Even so, the Hall Management Council has definitely delivered some of the promises that they made regarding providing improved facilities for the Halls, and certain other plans are still on the pipelines.
There again are two perspectives:
- One, which is the students' perspective, who feel that development per head seems to be very minimal as compared to the amount of money collected.
- Two, which is the authorities' perspective wherein they not only have to pay for the negative balance but also try and improve the facilities for Halls, procurement and tendering for which takes time; the delay is justified.
One positive thing that comes out of all of is that, however, it is expected that the institute would start running in positive balance within the next three years and once the institute clears the debt, this money would be used for the betterment of Halls. According to Prof. S.K. Patel,
If we have a surplus, it would definitely be used to further provide you with improved facilities, since this is your money. We might even buy a new DG set for you, to provide continuous power backup during power failures.
The need of the hour then is for the authorities to keep a consistent pace, and for the students to wait and be patient.