Remedying The Sordid Fortresses: The Chief Warden’s Way
Life at the Halls of Residences in NIT Rourkela comes with three quintessential complaints- the mess food, the late entry rule and the rant of not having proper accommodation. Keeping up with the myriad problems of college life isn’t a child’s play. Amidst all the ruckus, Team MM reached out to the Chief Warden, Prof. S.K. Pratihar to seek the answers of significant questions and to understand what plans are brewing up for the upcoming sessions. Excerpts
Monday Morning (MM): Many colleges such as IIT Kanpur and IIT Kharagpur follow a digitised process for allotting hostels but students in the Hall of Residences were asked to fill out preferences manually. Why hasn’t a similar process been implemented in NIT Rourkela yet?
Chief warden (CW): This time we didn’t fill out forms, we only asked about roommate and preferences for blocks. We allotted the hall through a calculation, which took into account the number of boarders for a given hall. We haven’t decided on implementing anything similar but yes, that can be done.
MM: The number of female students has increased significantly from 2018. As of now, many girl students feel that hostels are inadequate. What is the status of the new hall of residence been planned for girls? When will the construction begin?
CW: Yes, we have planned a hostel and allotted a site. The site is located right behind C.V. Raman Hall of Residence. We are planning to make it such that we can accommodate 750 boarders. Once the fund gets cleared by MHRD, the work will begin.
MM: Why was the undertaking for hall occupancy circulated so late?
CW: It (undertaking) was proposed in the Hall Management Committee meeting but it got delayed in the HOD meeting.
MM: In the same undertaking, there was a clause that the boarders aren’t allowed to keep any electronic devices. Even basic things like electric irons aren’t permitted. Why?
CW: One obvious reason is electricity consumption. Appliances such as room heaters, cookers and electric press have a rating of 1000 watts. That increases the electricity bill by a huge amount. Secondly, since the power rating is large, heat production is also large. This poses a threat to the electricity wirings which haven’t been changed for about 10 years now.
MM: Why haven’t the wirings been changed since such a long time?
CW: The responsibility of hall maintenance isn’t under my domain. It’s the responsibility of the administration.
MM: Why cannot the halls be automated? If basic electronic appliances like iron/water kettles are denied, can the halls at least provide a laundry corner and a separate press corner?
CW: We already have installed an automated mess. There are automated dish-washers and cleaners. Gradually, the automation will be looked after. There is a laundry point on the campus already and can be availed on calls. Providing separate press corner isn’t possible because the MCBs would trip.
MM: Boarders of Dhirubhai Ambani Hall of residence (as well as some others) complain that they have a single tube light in their rooms but it is insufficient since the rooms are large. Why aren’t they provided with another tube light?
CW: This is again related to the electrical wirings. There isn’t much that we can do unless the wirings are changed.
MM: The boarders complain of stray dogs and insects/pests creating a nuisance. Any steps as to how this issue can be addressed?
CW: That exits because students feed the dogs. One section of students like dogs around while the other does not. The security tries to keep them away. We cannot always look up to the Rourkela Municipality because they have only one animal catching van. We have tried sterilization working with the Municipality. Regarding the insects/pest issue, the pest treatment is done at regular intervals.
MM: Over the past few years, the establishment fees have increased considerably but no significant change has been observed. How are those fees being utilised?
CW: The hike came through in 2016-17. Most of it is being utilised for maintenance of the halls, for paying the workers and the kitchen staff.
MM: All halls have the same establishment fees but they aren’t equally furnished. Why?
CW: That lies in the hands of the respective wardens, more or less. We have tried to keep the developments very uniform. Some hostels such as KMS have ACs installed in their common rooms and we are trying to procure the same for other halls. The major problem is that the procurement process is slow. It is done through a system called GEEM (a government website). Even after repeated applications, our orders keep getting declined. That creates a delay.
MM: Regarding the general cleanliness and maintenance of the halls, a lot of washrooms and toilets of the halls are either poorly constructed or are dysfunctional. When can we expect improvements?
CW: It is true some of the taps and bearings in the washrooms and toilets are old and dysfunctional. Secretaries and wardens should look into the complaints. Whenever we would receive complaints, we shall act on them. Secondly, students should be responsible as well.
MM: Why aren’t the complaints in the register at the Chief Warden’s office addressed regularly?
CW: My staff is available round the clock. As per the register, it is checked regularly. The electricians are available from 5 PM to 10 PM and the plumbers are available since the morning. The students should inform us if anything like that is happening.
Team Monday Morning redirected a few questions on water seepage and electrical wiring issues of the halls to the wardens as believed by the Chief Warden to be directed,
The seepage problems that were brought to our notice were dealt with. There is always a chance of some damage whenever there is a construction. We noticed the seepage in the concerned rooms already. Regarding the MCB trips in some rooms, this problem is only for limited rooms. They occur because boarders use electric kettle and press. Other appliances like laptop chargers work fine. The electrician from Chief Warden office is looking into it at intervals maybe once in two days. If any student is not entering her complain in the register we cannot trace it.
- Prof. Kakoli Paul (Warden, KMS hall of residence)
MM: Recently, during fests and tournaments participants getting accommodations in our halls have complained about its poor state and have been displeasing our own participants when they visit their institutes as tit-for-tat. What can be done to provide better accommodations?
CW: We don’t have enough accommodating space in our halls. As of now, we have kept 30-32 spare rooms and the common rooms should suffice.
MM: Will a new security policy be implemented in this semester?
CW: We have been facing a lack of funds lately. Hence the crackdown on security has happened. Once the fund is cleared up, we will revert back to the old system. This is temporary.
MM: Why is 8:30 PM set as the late entry time for first-year girls? Why weren’t club activities, library hours and other recreational and extra-academic activities taken into account?
CW: Our motive behind that decision was simple- we want to prevent ragging. We want the students to have a smooth transition into the institute. Nothing unfortunate should happen. As far as the rule is concerned, it will be discontinued from October, most likely after the Puja vacations.
MM: What is the status of nationalized tendering for the mess?
CW: We are trying to implement it but the costs are that concern us. If we go by the government rate for paying the mess workers, our costs would increase exponentially. It is one of our main concerns. Once that is settled, we will implement it. But we don’t plan to introduce any coupons.
MM: Why is the LAN speed so slow? Will the Jio fibre plan be implemented any time soon?
CW: I can’t answer a question based on this. Its responsibility rests with the Computer Centre.
MM: What if a student has a damaged LAN port?
CW: They have to report it at the Warden’s office first, followed by the Chief Warden’s office from where they need to collect a form and get it approved. They can submit the form with the technicians at the Computer Centre after that.
MM: On a concluding note, what is the road map on important issues that will be addressed this year?
CW: Talks are underway to provide for a biometric installation for a late entry. We are planning to text parents on their wards’ late entry count. This will also make the security of boarders smooth. Also, we will be installing CCTVs at cycle spaces to check thefts. A lot of issues are being taken up with the MHRD. There is always a dilemma of purchasing or following the central or state rates. We are looking into it. Our aim is to provide an enjoyable and comfortable stay for our students. Their security should be our priority. Students should be responsible as well.