Fostering the Populace: M.S. Swaminathan Hall Review
M.S. Swaminathan Hall of residence can be considered as one of the most preferred halls when it comes to ease of accommodation and locational advantages. This academic year, 2018-19, it houses 451 boarders from B.Tech, M.Tech, and Int. M.Sc. and PhD curriculum. Let us begin with a basic description of the hall and continue with all the happenings in the hall around the year.
Infrastructure and lodging:
The hall has four blocks A, B, C and D. Blocks A, B and C have 84 rooms respectively and block D has 153 rooms making a total of 405 rooms. The second years are allotted double-seater rooms whereas from the third year, the boarders get single rooms with respect to their preferences. Some of the rooms have also been given to the caretaker and the other workers. There have been some recent developments in the infrastructure like the walls have been painted, the entrance of the hostel has been tiled and the garden fountain has been renovated with more lights added to it.
The hostel fees for each student pays each semester is 2400 rupees. Multiplying it with the number of boarders, the total allocated budget for the semester is 10,82,400 rupees. A maximum portion of it goes to the salary of the workers namely; caretaker, gardener, and cycle stand in-charge, amounting to roughly 5 lakhs. Due to some recent revision of the salary of the employees, it has increased, but the budget remains the same. According to the Warden Prof. Manish Okade,
“We are quite satisfied with the budget the hall gets as it is sufficient for the moment.”
Hall Elected Council:
According to general opinion, the HEC members led by the General Secretary Prashant Nayak have been very active in addressing the issues. They give a considerable amount of their time to the hall. They maintain a Whatsapp group to communicate with the Warden and the Assistant Warden at odd hours.
Approaching the food facilities:
MSS hall and DBA hall share the same mess called K.R. Patel cafeteria. Since the beginning of the academic year, there have been complaints about the poor quality of mess food. They have varied from uncooked or stale food to insects being found in food. There have been issues with the caterer whose has given very superficial and incoherent explanations at times. Here is the chronological sequence of events and how the Warden Mr Manish Okade and Assistant Warden Prof. G.N. Sahoo along with the Hall Elected Committee (HEC) committee have dealt with the issue:
August and September- The mess is in bad shape as the food quality is found to be declining. Warning letters are issued to the caterer.
October to December- The food quality improves a little but after some time stale food is reported on one occasion in breakfast and snacks. A sum of 14000 rupees is fined to the caterer. The menu is revised with healthy alternatives being added to the menu like sprouts replacing the most common item in the vegetarian menu which happens to be paneer. The caterer is issued with an ultimatum of 15 days within which, if he fails to serve good quality food, will be removed with immediate effect.
January onwards- The mess food quality starts improving gradually and boarders are satisfied with the current status.
In the words of the warden,
“They need to be monitored regularly and should not be provided with any slack. I am thankful to my whole team consisting of the Asst. Warden and the Hall Elected Committee (HEC) members; this is being taken care of very meticulously.”
The day canteen serves delicious food after minutes of order in fairly tempting prices. The day canteen accepts online payments to ease transactions. However the days the shop is ready to serve us is a bit erratic and not everyone is lucky enough to avail it.
The night canteen caters to the late night cravings serving homely delicacies to lullaby the hunger. The price list of the deliverables is pinned on the hostel notice board. The food services are good for selling a wide range of food at fair prices.
Washrooms, cleanliness and general hygiene:
The bathrooms are pretty clean however the window panes of few are broken. Its cleanliness is looked after at regular intervals ensuring no foul smell. The geysers, however, malfunction quite often in times of need. Or take too long to pour the perfect hot water one desires. A few of the mirrors are broken and the basins are too prone to damage as the joints are worn. The renovations of the toilets have been done blockwise except the D-Block as it had been constructed recently. Recently, all the washrooms have been inspected to ensure proper working of the geysers. The cleaning staff has not been very regular in cleaning the rooms and corridors. They need to be regularly monitored. They are taken on contract so the accountability lies with the contractor. So the caretaker along with the HEC members continues to advise the cleaners to be regular.
Cycle Stand: The cycle stand is well cleaned and there has been no report of thefts in recent times. It’s cleaned very often and cycles are arranged by the guards into rows and columns to make a way through. The guards are modest enough to help the students with the cycles be it filling air or some other issue. The cycle stand also had a pump to refill tyres in case of emergencies.
Stationery Shop: There is a stationary inside the hostel MSS that meets the desperate stationary needs on seconds. However, the store timings are a bit off the schedule. The store meets almost all kinds of stationary needs and has printing and Xerox facility and is equipped with a computer. The store accepts online payment as a smart way of transaction.
Drinking Water Supply: Each block has two Aquaguards at the two ends of the concerned block. The rate of flow of water is appreciable not causing delays and perfectly cooled. However, some channels run slow or broken. Some of the Aquaguards are unhygienic hence not worth the use but mostly all of them are available in the mess area. High wattage sockets for water heating needs of the boarders are made available as the rooms cannot take the load of water heaters. This measure has been welcomed by the boarders.
Reading Room and Common Room: The reading room was inaugurated along with the gym on 6th November 2018 by the Director, Prof. Animesh Biswas. The reading room is supplied with an internet connection and a UPS (uninterrupted power supply). The common room has a functional TV along with chairs to spend some leisure time.
Sports and health facilities:
Gymnasium: The gym is built on the same room which used to be a mess during Rourkela Engineering College (REC) times. It has the capacity only for 40-50 students which is not enough for 451 boarders. But since the gym runs on two shifts, morning and evening, the limited space doesn’t create a problem. Around two lakh rupees were spent on buying new equipment. Some more equipment is in demand but until some extra space can be acquired, the plans are on hold.
The two existing badminton courts were renovated recently due to a large number of badminton enthusiasts complaining about it.
The hall has facilities for indoor games like table tennis and carom.
Extracurricular activities and events:
Let us have a look at some recent events and activities conducted in MSS hall:
- Vanmahotsav- Held on 9th September 2018, the boarders planted small saplings in the garden and the event was inaugurated by the honourable Director himself.
- Swach Hostel Abhiyaan- Held on 6th October 2018, this cleanliness drive, inspired by the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, was aimed at creating awareness among boarders. Prof. C.R. Patra was invited as the Chief Guest of honour.
Looking into future endeavours:
The following developmental works have been proposed and are pending for the moment:
- The building of a Conference Room
- Indoor Badminton Court
- Boarders’ room painted from the inside
- A photograph of the outgoing batch along with the Warden, Asst. Warden and the HEC members, which will be laminated and hung at the entrance.
In rewind, MSS hall may not be the perfect hall at the moment, but in terms of progress, it is definitely at the top. In the words of the warden,
“We must treat the hall as our second home. Just as we feel responsible for taking care of our home, the same must be felt here also. Together as a team, we can work for the betterment of the hall.”