Uttarakhand NIT students on warpath over poor living conditions

NIT Uttarakhand

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New Delhi/Dehradun, Aug 22 : About 1,000 students are on an indefinite strike at the NIT, Uttarakhand to protest against the cramped hostel rooms and toilets overflowing with sewage, and demanding that they be immediately shifted to some other place.

The government-owned National Institute of Technology (NIT) is located in Srinagar town of the state, some 127 km away from Haridwar, the nearest place where the students have to go to procure necessary items.

Having weathered the hardships due to the remoteness of the place for years, the students now demand that they be shifted to a plains area.

No classes have been held in the campus since Sunday, the day they began their strike.

“This is not a spontaneous movement but the culmination of living in hell-like conditions which the administration has forced upon us for the last seven years.

“There are only three toilets for every 50 students, and those too are overflowing with sewage. Six people share a room, which is too small even for two people,” a student, who did not wish to reveal his name, told IANS over phone.

“We demand to be shifted to another building within next five days and the construction of a proper campus in plain area somewhere near Haridwar or the state capital before the end of the semester in December,” he said.

The NIT campus was established at the current location in the premises of a government polytechnic building on a temporary basis in 2010. It was scheduled to be shifted to a permanent campus at Sumari, a village in the hills at a distance of 30 km from Srinagar.

But the place in Sumari, the students argue, had been deemed as “highly unsafe” and unconducive for the campus building because of its susceptibility to landslides and its remoteness.

The photographs accessed by IANS revealed the unflattering atmosphere and facilities the students are forced to put up with at the Srinagar campus. They showed bathrooms overflowing with sewage and human excreta, broken taps, cramped hostel rooms and bathroom doors withered at the bottom corners, compromising the privacy of the users.

Even the facade of the building reflects the situation inside, with the institute’s board barely visible there, most of it rusted away and crumbled.

The students also alleged that their campus, unlike other NITs, was located on just one acre, while the rest are located on premises of around 300 acres.

Talking to IANS, the Registrar of the institute conceded the fact of overflowing bathrooms and said that students would soon be shifted to houses or hotels somewhere else temporarily.

“The situation has arisen because the Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) of the National Green Tribunal, to which we had subscribed, has stopped treating the sewage from our facility.

“I have talked to the District Magistrate … we will shift the students to rented locations within a week probably, since they cannot live in hostels anymore because of the saturation of the sewerage,” Colonal Sukhpal Singh, the Registrar, said.

About a permanent campus, he said the administration had approached the state government through the Ministry of Human Resource development (MHRD).

“The state government is in the process of finalising the location — whether it will be in Sumari or any other place, they will decide. We are hopeful of getting land in two months and after having done the soil testing and site survey in the subsequent one month, we will start the construction in the first quarter of next year,” he added.

Singh said there were no sewer lines in Srinagar, they were planning to buy modular STP for the future.

Started with 90 students in 2010, the institute was expected to be sufficient for that many people. But with increasing strength, it had become nearly impossible to continue at the current site, Singh said.

The current strength at the institute is 900, according to Singh, but the students say it is nearing 1,200 with the fresh admissions this academic season.

The students have also sent a memorandum to the MHRD and sought its intervention.

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