“When we can treat all existing persons as human, it will be time enough to think about having more.”
Resolutions are meant to be broken – that truth is universal. If the construction delays are any indication, one is compelled to conclude that the situation in KGP is no different. Our leaders’ vision is commendable and we are part of an institute with world-class infrastructure; but sadly the infrastructure seems to exist on paper only. With about 2000 people making the campus their new home this semester, we are simply not equipped enough to support their needs. Already stressed mess facilities are fighting a losing battle to feed hundreds of hungry mouths. The Scholars’ Avenue took a reality check of the present condition and the prognosis is anything but pleasant:
Second years perhaps have been dealt the worst hand. In almost all boys’ hostels (with the notable exception of RP) they’ve been shepherded either four in a triple sharing room or paired up in a single room. Four students crammed up in a 3-seater room in this oppressive weather is hardly the ideal scenario to kick off a new academic year. The Civil Works Department perhaps had the foresight to enhance the aesthetic beauty of the 2.2 since they already knew that with accommodation facilities like these, the students would be spending more time on the road than in the confined spaces of their overcrowded rooms. Halls such as HJB and LLR did not receive any new students this year, their ambitious plans for the GC and Illumination have since, taken a huge hit. Even third years were compelled to struggle for rooms. RK, Azad, Patel, HJB and SN still have third years paired up in double rooms.
While new construction saved some messes from the brunt of overcrowding, residents in some halls still have to wait in serpentine queues or dine under makeshift bamboo tents to be served their daily bread, images reminiscent of a flood relief centre. It is a flood, indeed, a flood of humanity which inundates the Scholars’ Avenue during lunchtime. Cycle stands, in halls as well as the one near the Central Library have long been overflowing but to no one’s notice, it seems.
Three new halls – Lal Bahadur Shastri, B R Ambedkar, and Chanakya halls of residence were the administrations’ answer to this problem. Lal Bahadur Shastri has been delayed by more than two years and – wait for it – is still not complete. Out of a total of 667 planned rooms, only 124 have been handed over to the HMC. The hostel, which currently houses post-graduate students, doesn’t have LAN, a proper dining hall or a functional kitchen. Food is being prepared elsewhere and being served at a single counter in the in the hall where long queues are the norm. To add to the discomfort, the on-going construction is a cause of continuous disturbance.
Work on the B R Ambedkar hall has started and according to optimistic estimates, students will be able to move in by December 2011. The hall will have 1600 single rooms, providing a breather to the older halls. The building plans for Chanakya hall of residence, meant for VGSOM students is yet to see the light of day. We urge our readers to take this information with an adequate amount of salt (to taste).
Several departmental classes and laboratories are experiencing dilution in quality and intensity in the process of accommodating more students, not to mention that student-teacher interaction is inevitably taking a hit. The planned Nalanda complex is expected to give respite, though one is inclined to believe that a great amount of effort and planning will be required to even maintain the present standards of education.
In essence, a lack of resources is being felt in multiple aspects of life which begs the question – where did the planning go wrong? Has the number of students grown untimely, without giving thought to how the general quality of lifestyle and academics may be impacted?
There are of course possible solutions, they only need to be thought of early enough to be implemented on time. Class timings can be staggered, with systematic variation aimed at minimising sudden load on the messes especially during lunch hours. Facilities for games and sports need to be in some kind of proportion with the growing population, otherwise we might end up compromising on too many fronts. Here’s hoping that the future brings successful execution of well thought out plans to make life productive for every individual on campus.