Hostel Accommodation – at fracture point?

After much back and forth between the authorities and the students, the situation surrounding the QIP building (now referred to as Hostel 10A) seems to have calmed down. The authorities have agreed to a number of the demands made by the girls – demands such as a geyser for every flat. The mess in the QIP building has started and a special transport service for QIP residents has been established. However not all demands made by the girls were agreed to. These included reducing the number of girls per flat to 3, or to make a partition between the hall and the bedroom. A packed tiffin service was provided when the mess was not ready. We’ve reached this state of peace only after a lot of agitation and compromising. But what exactly transpired behind the scenes that made QIP such a hotly debated issue. lets take a look –

The accommodation crisis – now at fracture point?

It is well known by now that accommodation has become an acute problem in the institute. It is not as if the students are demanding large, single rooms or are getting agitated for trivial causes- all that the students demand is that they get a small room to themselves to provide some semblance of privacy instead of being shunted around by the authorities on a whim.

The situation is far more acute in Hostel-11, where students were made to stay even in libraries and lounges, as well as dormitories. Hostel – 15, the treasure at the end of the rainbow, has been delayed yet again by six months, with its expected completion date now in July 2013, after having been delayed at least twice before (the first deadline was July ’12 pushed to December ’12 now pushed to July ’13).

During this time however, construction of the QIP building has been completed. Situated on the hill side road opposite Vihar house, the QIP building originally made for married students living outside the institute, offers accommodation for around 310 PG students. Under the authorities’ scheme, married students would continue to live outside the campus until more space was found, while girls from H 10 would shift to QIP, facilitating the demolition of old H10. The QIP quarters are 1 BHK flats with one hall, one bedroom, one kitchen and bathroom. Students are expected to live 4 to a room in these quarters.

The plan, as envisioned by the HCU (Hostel Co-ordinating Unit), was that all PG girls from the new 2012 batch would be shifted to the new QIP building from Hostel 10 and 11. The remainder of the PG girls would be shifted from Hostel 10 to Hostel 11. It was estimated that the difference between the two moves would be such that the extra load that H11 has been bearing for over a year would be relieved. Furthermore, UG girls living in the old wing of H10 would be relocated to the new wing, thereby paving the path for the demolition of the old wing of Hostel – 10, a brainchild of the authorities which has been in the pipeline for quite some time. Unfortunately, UG girl freshmen and sophomore students in the H10 new building would have to be tripled up until the old building was re-constructed, which would take an estimated 20 months after demolition.

Problems with the plan soon became apparent to the student community. The QIP building which was supposed to be “ready for occupation” was nowhere near that. While mails sent by HCU chairman, Prof. Anindya Dutta, mentioned that the building lacked messing facilities that would start by the 25th of January, they failed to mention that the rooms were not furnished. Each apartment in the building is meant to house four people, but there is only one Lan Port provided per apartment. There were no hot water facilities. Interviews with current residents of the QIP building also revealed that the Tum Tum service there is sporadic, with walking being the only alternative as very few autos ply on the hillside road. The inmates also feel that the location of the building is secluded and the roads become very lonely at night, unlike the hostel area. The authorities have promised a designated bus service and streetlights in response to both these complaints.

The emergency “student senate” meeting-

On the 16th of January, an agitated student body comprising of the GSHA, GSAA-UG and GSAA-PG, hostel G.Secs and concerned hostelites met at the H-6 mess in a first ever meet of what was informally christened as the “Student Senate”. What triggered this long-standing heartburn was the seemingly sudden decision to shift some H-10 and H-11 residents to other temporary lodgings such as the QIP ( Quality Improvement Program) building and the C-type Quarters. This was being done since a work order had been passed for the demolition of the old H-10 building (to be re-built into a 10 storey new H-10) which would lapse by March, 2013. The authorities claimed that if this work order was allowed to lapse, the institute would face financial penalties and construction too would be pushed back by a year, since the whole tendering process would have to be restarted. This fuelled old grievances, such as institute apathy to the student community and the unmet quagmires of promises, while at the same time raising two very pertinent questions- why were students not consulted before the work order was passed? And why was the work order passed at all when H-15 and 16 were being repeatedly delayed.

The students, fed up with the lacklustre response faced by them each time, met up in the Hostel – 6 mess on the night of the 16th of January to discuss possible measures that the entire student community could take to bring the institute machinery out of its current state of stasis. The meeting itself involved an animated discussion amongst the students present with regards to the kind of problems that they were facing due to the unresponsiveness of the authorities, followed by measures that could be taken to shake the authorities out of apathy.

This meeting was followed up by a list of demands that were made by the student representatives and sent to the authorities, demanding an Open House session to discuss their grievances, failing which students would resort to non-violent protests. In response, on the 21st of January, Professor Devang Khakhar – the Director-IITB, Professor U.A. Yajnik – Dean SA and Professor Anindya Dutta – HCU Chairman met the aggrieved student body at the IRCC auditorium.

The details of the Open House which was held at IRCC auditorium with the Director, HCU Chairman and the Dean of Student Affairs can be found here.