All about the Infrastructure Woes: Dean P&D Interview
Buildings, classrooms, laboratories, and equipment- education infrastructure - are crucial elements of learning environments for every institute. There is strong evidence that high-quality infrastructure facilitates better instruction, improves student outcomes, and reduces dropout rates, among other benefits. NIT Rourkela has taken up various infrastructure projects in the recent past but a lot of them are yet to be complete, starting from the indefinite wait for the Golden Jubilee Building to the uncertain shifting of Mechanical Science Building. With the commencement of the new academic year in July 2019, Prof. Prasanna Kumar Sahu took up the post of Dean Planning and Development. Team Monday Morning met with Prof. Sahu to discuss the status of various infrastructure projects going on in NIT Rourkela.
MM: How has been your experience so far as the Dean Planning and Development of the institute?
Prof. Sahu: It has been fine. It is a new type of experience being in the administration.
MM: Tell us about the status of the new Mechanical Science building. Also are there any plans for shifting of the Civil department?
Prof. Sahu: The Mechanical building has already been completed and the contractor has handed over the building to the institute. Since some infrastructure has to be provided such as an internet connection and centralized air-conditioning, we will shift the department after that is done. We are trying hard to complete it as soon as possible.
About the civil department, it will be there in the main building as per the present information. I don’t have any information about the shifting of the civil department.
MM: Is there a deadline for the completion of that building?
Prof. Sahu: I don’t think that there is a deadline. I joined this post on 1st July 2019, if there is a deadline, it must be with the previous dean. I am unaware of it.
MM: There is speculation that the machines of the mechanical department are too huge to enter through the gate of the newly constructed department. What do you have to say about it?
Prof. Sahu: The machines are too old and big to move to the new building thus; we will continue to use them in the old building. If the machines are functional then the experiments will be performed there but once the machines are outdated or non- functional, new machines will be procured depending on space availability. We do not want to dispose of the old machines. However, the offices and classes will be shifted to the new building.
MM: BWC has already sanctioned the Budget for the renovation of the tennis and basketball court. When is that work supposed to start?
Prof. Sahu: The Ministry of Human Resources and the board of governing body has accordingly decided that the work order will be given to CPWD (Central Public Works Department) which is a government functioning unit. There were certain terms and conditions which have been cleared and the MoU has already been signed. I expect the work to be completed by the end of April or May.
MM: DTS in spite of being a football stadium lacks proper grass ground. What steps will be taken concerning it?
Prof. Sahu: This issue is not under my supervision. You can direct this to Dean Student Welfare or Sports officer as I have no information about it.
MM: During every Inter-NIT, there are temporary washrooms in DTS, set up for girls. When will the construction of permanent washrooms start?
Prof. Sahu: When the SAC President, Seemita Mohanty told me about the lack of girls’ washroom, I immediately instructed the technical assistant looking after the civil maintenance. For the upcoming months, there will be events going on thus, temporary toilets will be provided for this period but later on, permanent washroom along with a Greenroom/changing room for female students will be constructed. The entire construction depends on the funding situation. Apart from this, there has been a proposal for constructing a new bigger sports complex.
MM: The number of female students being admitted to college is increasing every year. How will the administration accommodate them?
Prof. Sahu: There has been a proposal for the construction of a 600-seater girls’ hostel. Presently the Government of India and MHRD have kept the proposal on hold. It will be decided soon.
MM: The road in front of the CVR hostel is in a vulnerable state. What is the administration planning to do?
Prof. Sahu: We had a meeting with the executive engineer discussing the dire state of the roads. The proposal has been sent to BWC (Building and Works Committee). We have proposed for the resurfacing of roads. These things are already on our agenda.
MM: There was a proposal regarding the installation of 750KVA Digiset Power backup systems. When will they be installed?
Prof. Sahu: We have already sent the proposal to the Purchase and Works section. It is now their responsibility to provide the tenders, as we have already given the budget for installation in hostels. Apart from that, we have also planned a separate transformer for the Golden Jubilee building. We are planning to have around 1 Megawatt of power backup for hostel areas.
MM: It has been an observation that almost before every examination is accompanied by a power cut. Why is there no proper maintenance for certain situations?
Prof. Sahu: It is not the fault of the institute. We acquire power from WESCO Grid located in the western part of Orissa. Whenever they go in for maintenance, we have to face these problems. However, we have provided Digiset to academic building and library for smooth functioning. Obviously, we don’t do it intentionally at exam times.
MM: When will the Lecture Complex B be functional? And what about the proposal regarding installing ACs in the whole Lecture Complex A.
Prof. Sahu: LB has already been handover to the institute by the contractor. The thing which is acting as a hurdle is the centralized AC. We are trying to install the chiller plant for this but the expression of interest would be required from different parties. The completion of furniture is also in the process, the contract has been given to a company.
There are tower ACs in some rooms of LA but this time, By the summer vacation, tower ACs will be installed in every room.
MM: Coming to the Golden Jubilee building, What has caused the delay in handover?
Prof. Sahu: I don't know the reasons behind the delay as my tenure was not started at that time, the executive engineer must be knowing them but when I joined in July 2019, it came to my knowledge that because of certain reasons, the contractor has asked for an extension. Thus, we have extended the date to 31st October 2019. The building has been completed. We have given the provisional completion certificate. We are trying to make it operational as soon as possible.
MM: What is the total investment for the building?
Prof. Sahu: The construction of 6 buildings which includes Mechanical Science building, Lecture Complex B, SD hall, Faculty Residence A and B, Golden Jubilee Building and Verghese Kurien hall was given to SPCl ( Shapoorji Pallonji Group ) and an investment of around 300 crores has been done for all.
MM: What are the updates on the interior of the Golden Jubilee Building? Is it completely ready?
Prof. Sahu: The interior of the building is ready. We will do the inspection soon and If some minor defects are found then under the terms and conditions, the contractor has to repair them within the defect liability period otherwise some money will be deducted from the security deposit. With satisfaction and no defects, the contractor will hand over the building to the Institute.
MM: From what we know, Golden Jubilee building is going to have a library, seminar halls, and all the academic offices. Can you give us details about everything that the Golden Jubilee Building is supposed for?
Prof. Sahu: Although the tentative allocation of rooms has been done, there is a space allocation committee that will decide which space has to be given to which department or unit and accordingly the department or unit has to occupy that space. The administrative building will be shifted to the golden jubilee building including accounts, purchase & works, and all other units. The library will also be shifted into the golden jubilee building. As a result, the space vacated in the Biju Patnaik Central Library (BPCL) will be occupied by some other department that may not be having a separate building at present or can be used for other purposes. Also, some other small departments may be shifted to the golden jubilee building but it would be decided by the space allocation committee.
MM: There are rumours in the student community that the foundation of the golden jubilee building is not strong and/or the dimensions of the buildings have failed to match the security standards. What is your opinion on this?
Prof. Sahu: The foundation of the building is very strong, the contractor is a very renowned one, i.e. SPCL (Shapoorji Pallonji Group) and they are the contractors for many buildings (5 buildings) that have already been handed over to the institute and we have never faced such defects. The drawing given by the architect was approved by the committee and there is no basis for this rumour.
MM: The seating capacity of BBA (Bhubaneswar Behera Auditorium) is very less compared to the needs encountered on many occasions. Are there any plans for the construction of a bigger auditorium?
Prof. Sahu: At present, there is no such proposal about the expansion of BBA that I know of.
MM: There is no washroom for girls in BBA. Do you have any plans in this regard?
Prof. Sahu: I am not aware of this situation as I never had to use that washroom but now that you have informed me, I’ll see and make sure that it is done quickly.
MM: What are the main challenges that the institute is looking at in terms of infrastructure?
Prof. Sahu: Challenges are many, like centralized air conditioning, installation of a chilling plant for all buildings, namely mechanical, TIIR, Golden Jubilee, LH 2. Expression of interest and how quickly it can be done is a big challenge. At present, our main focus is on the quick-shifting of the mechanical science building and Golden Jubilee building.
MM: Finally, what message would you like to give to our readers?
All the deans are striving very hard for the upliftment of our NIRF ranking as per vision 2025. So we are working hard for the betterment of the institute. We want to be in the top 10 first and then go even further. Our publications are very good, infrastructure is also good but we need to work on factors such as perception so that good students prefer NIT Rourkela. We have taken certain challenges and we will ensure that there is an improvement in our ranking.