The Guest House – A Struggle for space
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Chief Editors: Anshul Avasthi, Chirag Chadha
The IIT Bombay Guest House, consisting of the Van Vihar and the Jal Vihar, is a beautiful laid-back lodging, nestled amidst lush greenery and in the vicinity of the serene Powai lake. With air-conditioned rooms, internet access, a breathtaking view, a morning cup of tea to go with your complimentary newspaper – it sure is a luxurious place for visitors and guests.
The Guest House has a total of 74 rooms in addition to a few suites and the staff hostel. At all times, 15 of rooms are reserved for visiting professors associated with the CEP (Continued Education Program). The Guest House also plays host to many dignitaries from time to time. This semester in particular, with IIT Bombay hosting the Inter IIT Sports Meet, the Guest House is almost fully booked for the concerned delegates.
Room allocation in the Guest House is done through an online portal. The available rooms are displayed online and the student selects the rooms of choice, specifies date and time of occupancy, relation with the guest, purpose of visit, etc. The charges per night for parents are Rs.1000/- for double occupancy and Rs.600/- for single occupancy while for other guests they are Rs.2000/- and Rs.1200/- respectively. The online request is then sent for approval to the concerned authority (generally the Faculty Advisor of the student) who confirms the booking.
The order of preference during room allocation is as follows:
Category I: Institute guests (visiting professors, guest lecturers, JEE/GATE committee members, Faculty position candidates, etc.)
Category II: Official guests (Department visitors, Ex-Faculty members/Officers, Parents/Guardians, Other university students)
Category III: Guests of Faculty, Staff, Guests of students, IITB Alumni and family
Within a given category, priority is given based on a first come first serve basis.
We need room
One might conjecture that the Guest House can modestly accommodate students’ guests provided booking be done well in advance. However this flawless façade masks internal despair. Students are denied rooms in the Guest House because of their continual unavailability in the Guest House. Guest House authorities state that the unavailability of Guest House rooms is but a consequence of the larger, more pressing issue of the infrastructural crunch in the institute.
In recent years, the increase in student intake by the institute has spurred faculty recruitment. Inadequate faculty lodging and accommodation has become a major drawback, now more than ever. New faculty members are allotted rooms in the guesthouse till the time that they get permanent accommodation. Currently, a majority of the Guest House rooms house the newly joined faculty.
Very often, Category-1 and Category-2 guests themselves fail to get accommodation in the guest house, then what’s to say about Category-3.
However, the institute authorities have gone out of their way to not cause any inconvenience to students. Once accommodation has been confirmed to a student, the room is unfailingly available on the days specified. Bookings for urgent unexpected conferences, calls for inadvertent room bookings. In most such cases, faculty members have often forgone their own rooms in order to not cause inconvenience to students.
In case of unavailability of rooms in the Guest House, students may ask the Guest House authorities to be allocated rooms in MTNL or the Sameer Guest House.To alleviate the troubles students’ face, the Guest House board came up with the in-hostel guest accommodation, a few years back wherein students can book rooms in their hostels itself.
What’s to come?
A new Guest House with an additional capacity of 100 rooms and 50 suites is under construction and will cater to the current demands. New faculty quarters and lodging are upcoming projects in the infrastructure improvement agenda of the institute in the near future.
The efforts of the guesthouse to accommodate faculty, visitors, international delegates and dignitaries despite the dearth in lodging facilities is truly commendable. Like many other amenities on campus, the Guest House too seems to be unable to cope with the sharp increase in intake of students and faculty. To resolve the issue, multiple construction projects are underway with much vigour. Until then, the Guest House bears its plight and does the best it can.