An interview regarding the state of infrastructure on campus
The Director invited Mr. Abhyankar, Dean (Infrastructure) and Mr. Panigrahi, Associate Dean (Hostel Management) along with the General Secretaries of SAC, BSP, and BHM to discuss the infrastructure issues raised in the previous edition of Inquirer published by BSP.
The meeting took place on 18th September 2023. Present at the meeting were Mr. Rangan Banerjee, Director, Mr. Abhijit R. Abhyankar, Dean (Infrastructure), and Mr. B. K. Panigrahi, Associate Dean (Hostel Management). In attendance from the student bodies were Ms. Sara Roshen, Mr. Sanskar Soni, and Mr. Sarthak Srivastava, General Secretaries of BSP, SAC, and BHM respectively and Mr. Tanish Rai, Deputy General Secretary of SAC.
Whitewashing and Waterproofing
Q: In the past, the entire hostel used to be whitewashed yearly, but this time, only the fresher's rooms were whitewashed. Also, there have been issues in the waterproofing of the old hostels. Rooms on the top floors of hostels, like Karakoram, have become uninhabitable due to this.
A: We can coordinate with the hostel authorities to check when the majority (~80%) of rooms are vacated and proceed with the whitewashing, as any big work has to be done through the tendering process. So, we must have a proper timeline for the availability of vacated rooms.
The CPWD did a great job on the waterproofing of Aravali when I was the warden. However, the waterproofing done by the same vendor in Karakoram hostel wasn't optimal. For the old hostels, we have ambitious plans to rebuild these hostels to increase their capacity. We will resolve the urgent issues by extending the current tender for the waterproofing of buildings in the academic area.
Q: Basic maintenance of rooms is pending. Even after the vacation of rooms, maintenance still needs to be done.
A: I want the proactive cooperation of the warden, caretaker, and the student body for this. This will give the infrastructure unit a comprehensive picture of the pending repair work. As soon as a wing is vacated, a team should visit and repair the minor issues (broken windows, latches) right away.
Q: The frequency of breakdowns of ROs has increased significantly. Also, due to some issues, maintenance is not being done regularly.
A: The ROs currently being used were installed long back. When the infra unit took ownership of the ROs before the COVID-19 lockdown, we found them in very dilapidated conditions. They weren't supplying the optimal quality of water*. We have a plan to revamp all the RO. This has already been done for the girls hostels (need a fact check on this). We have to go through the tendering process to do this on a large scale. The students may face a shortage of water for 2-3 days during the transition period.
Q: More than 50% of the hostels face a shortage of sanitary equipment (odonils, handwashes etc)
A: The cleaning and consumables tender is handled by Quess. Due to overstrain on the hostels (due to the increased number of students residing), spending on cleaning has to be increased, this is the sole reason for the shortage of consumables. The housekeeping tender with Quess is going to end, we will be onboarding a new contractor in 3-4 months, and you can expect this issue to be resolved after that.
Q: The washrooms in the academic block (especially girls’ washrooms) are very dirty, what is our instant solution to this? Also, can we have a rough timeline for the resolution of the issues of the washrooms in the hostel and the academic areas?
A: Cleanliness is a low-hanging fruit. We have been deploying more and more workers to take care of this. But, due to the old infrastructure, the outlet pipes have corroded. Through this vendor, we plan to revamp the water supply and sewage. After this, more than 50% of our cleanliness problems will be solved, the rest will be resolved through frequent cleaning.
As for the instant solution, we have been doing proactive sampling. If there is a mechanism to get feedback from the student community, we can proactively work in this direction.
The formal way of doing this is to put the SOP in the tender document that we will float, this was also there in the earlier document however, Quess failed to implement it, and we also failed to ensure it. However, If someone finds a fault with the cleanliness, actions will be taken to resolve it.
For washrooms in the academic areas, we have planned their revamping in phases. The overall tender duration is two years. We can expect them to be revamped in two years. For the hostels we will start doing meetings with hostels, and we expect them to be completed in 2 months time. After that we will have a plan and we will come up with a timeline.
Protocol for grievance resolution not in place
Q: The issue in the current redressal mechanism is the lack of trail, it is difficult for the maintenance secretaries to keep track of the requests sent. We had sent a list multiple times during the summer, it contained 8-10 issues from every hostel. Can we get a status check on that?
A: The document I refer to for the redressal of these issues was very comprehensive and was made three years back when I was the associate dean. I was Aravali's warden 3 years back and have seen these issues myself. Unfortunately, nothing much has been done. The student representatives and the infrastructure unit can collaborate and discuss each issue. The infrastructure unit can then address these problems and provide an estimate of the timelines for their resolution.
AC in hostels
Q: There are requests for ACs in various hostels, and often they get approved, but the ACs never get installed. Any reasons for this? Also, is there a plan to increase the number of areas that are covered by ACs, especially hostels?
A: As far as installing ACs in hostels is concerned, there’s a metric. The approved ACs will be installed for sure. There’s an AC committee that discusses each application for the AC revamping, reinstallation, etc. and takes a call as per the policy document. We have split the tender. We are taking care of the VRF and split AC units separately. The vendor will onboard soon and this will be completed.
As for new AC installation in hostels, we are responding to the requests rather than going to hostels and identifying where we want to put ACs. I would like you guys to take the lead and let us know, through a proper channel, about the areas that you want to put ACs in. We’ll evaluate it in AC Committee meetings and let you know.
A-type apartment problems
Q: Some A-type apartments where married students live are in poor condition, with issues like RO problems that worsen during the rainy season. This concern was raised in the April SAC meeting. Can you provide a timeline for addressing these issues?
A : I must assess the priority of these concerns before providing a timeline. Additionally, we have the challenge to vacate A12, A13, A14, and A9 due to our plans to construct 103. This factor also needs consideration in our response.
Q. The Student Activity Centre (SAC) has issues like the unhygienic conditions of the girls’ washroom, the poor maintenance and lack of equipment in the Badminton Court, and the AC in Squash Court does not work. Are there any steps being taken to improve these? In addition to this, is there a possibility of making SAC more accessible for People with Disabilities?
A. The feedback about girls’ washrooms is useful, I will look into this issue. I was not aware of this. I am not aware of the gym equipment etc. in the SAC, I don’t know who looks into it. Regarding the AC in Squash Court, that can be taken care of - we will lodge a repair complaint. You can talk to the Dean ODI if they have a plan regarding making SAC more People with Disabilities-friendly, and then we can take it forward.
PWD friendly community spaces
Q. We have certain facilities for infrastructure on campus catering to People with Disabilities, but there is a lack of ramps in the academic area and the Blocks. Are there any measures being taken towards making the campus more friendly for People with Disabilities?
A. A plan has been drafted with Prof. Angelie Multani, Dean ODI, on what measure we can take in future in this regard. We have carried out an audit of the academic area through our consultant architect from the accessibility point-of-view, and the consultant has prepared an extensive document about where we lack in accessibility which will be shared with you guys. We started prioritisation because there are certain points that require removing and rebuilding while there are other points that require miniscule work. This audit report is a significant report in taking a step towards this direction.
Proposal of new food complex
Q. The institute engineer has proposed a plan for creating a permanent structure in the Rajdhani area, for a food outlet building. The students’ reviews for Rajdhani are very negative. Can you provide more details as to what is being planned?
A. We thank the students for providing us the feedback for Rajdhani, that will help us in taking some action against those guys. Awarding these spaces [at Chaayos, Rajdhani] to various outlets was done in an ad hoc fashion. There was no plan in place. But now we aim to establish a mall-like common seating area with multiple vendors along Zanskar's wall. Student bodies can suggest outlet ideas for the next CELC meeting. We also need to discuss why Rajdhani isn't operating in the former masala mix location.
More food outlets to get more AC spaces
Q. Is there a possibility of building some food outlets or café so that we have more air-conditioned spaces on the campus?
A. This is a policy decision where all stakeholders should come together, discuss, and deliberate in what places we should be providing ACs and where not. I alone should not be responding to this because every stakeholder on the campus should be part of this discussion. We have taken one step forward, having top brands on campus as far as food outlets are concerned. In the new shopping complex on the eastern side, we will have a Subway, a café, a South Indian outlet-Dosa Planet, a proper North Indian restaurant. It’s not only about food outlets serving good dishes, but they will also have a nice ambience as well. We can have nice seating capacity, good ambience, and air-conditioning. So that’s what is being provided over there.
Online portal for grievances
Q. We'd like to address the issue of students not having real-time information on the status of their complaints. Since infrastructure issues have been particularly rising, an online portal for direct communication would be helpful, especially for short-term issue resolution.
A. Three-four months down the line, we will be having a new management company. There is a redressal system that operates through CSC, and each hostel has a complaint register at the front desk. Students can write their complaints with room details, leading to eventual resolution. Let us entrust the student bodies with the task of developing a digital system for this purpose. We will add the suggested layers on the ERP Portal for all student complaints. Caretakers will review and forward them to the infra unit. We need multiple layers to comprehensively address issues.