JNU hostels in decrepit condition

- October 20, 2022
| By : Mohd Shehwaaz Khan |

There can be no two opinions that the condition of JNU hostels is deplorable, even dangerous. Time and again, students have brought up the issue but the administration either makes false promises or ignores their demands

Jawaharlal Nehru University has 18 hostels for boys and girls and one complex accommodating married students. Although the official website of the university states that the hostels “are spacious, well furnished”, providing hygienic food and recreational facilities, the reports trickling in tell a different story.

In September, aggrieved hostellers staged a 25-day protest to draw attention to the poor infrastructure of JNU hostels and the difficulties students have to face in the campus. Improving the condition of hostels was the primary issue that was raised in the protest, although there were other demands. 

Following the protest, the administration of the university made reassuring noises about the allocation of funds for the repair of hostels, administrative offices, academic buildings and staff quarters.

As per the notice, University Grant Commission (UGC) allocated funds of Rs 28 crore out of total proposed cost of Rs 56 crore, of which Rs 14 crore has been released by UGC as a part of first installment. “A committee has been formed by the competent authority to monitor the progress of the work”, the notice states. It also mentions that the renovation would be undertaken in a phased manner.

Curious apathy

However, hostellers are doubtful about the progress of the work as there have been several appeals by students in the past to address the issue. Major incidents that have led to serious health and safety issues and the negligence of the administration has further added to the distrust of the students. 

“There have been a series of incidents where students were either injured and were saved by chance. The condition of the hostel is so bad that the plaster keeps peeling off all the time, there is seepage on the walls and rainwater drips from the ceiling. We agree that the facilities are provided at subsidised rates but one has to live in constant fear of injury. How can anyone study in such a scenario?” asks Dhananjay, an MPhil student at the School of Arts and Aesthetics and a member of All India Student Association.

PATCHY SOLUTION: Temporary plastering of the ceiling of a room

“In April, the official Twitter account of the university tweeted that Rs 56 crore have been received for hostel repair and maintenance. But when we went to the administration office after four days, we were told that the money is only on paper right now. All of this feels like a lie to brush off the issue of such incidents”, he adds.

On 4 October, the ceiling of a room in Godavari Hostel collapsed and fell directly on the study table, damaging a laptop. In a similar incident in April, Fasiul Hasan, a student of German language in Sabarmati Hostel, was seriously injured when a big chunk of the bathroom roof collapsed on him.

“My life was only saved by an inch as I suffered a head injury. I was taken to the nearby health centre on the campus”, he says, narrating the incident to Patriot.

“The issue of the condition of the hostels have been raised time and again but administration never takes action. Incidents like these keep on happening and students often live in constant fear. And this is not the only problem, the quality of food is unhygienic. Just a few days ago, I got food poisoning because of the food given in the mess”, he adds.

Monsoon havoc

Students complain that the situation becomes even worse during the rainy season. “Just come here when it rains and you will see something akin to a flood”, remarks one of the students of Jhelum Hostel as he speaks about the corridor leading to the dining hall. “Because the corridors are filled with water, we often have to go out in the rain just to reach the mess for food”, he adds.

TOTAL COLLAPSE: A huge chunk of plaster fell in a toilet, fortunately no one
was using it

Jaishree, a student of BA in French who stays in Chandrabhaga hostel, says that the state of the road outside the hostel is in precarious condition. “Sometimes, there is water leakage on the road from the gutter and the overall environs are not liveable.”

She adds that it becomes difficult for women to live in such conditions when water is unavailable for hours in the hostel. “You understand the kind of problems one can face when there is no water. It becomes even more challenging for women to stay here when they are on their periods”, she says.

Ironically, she points out, the taps of bathrooms are always leaking, wasting water – which in turn leads to water shortage. “There is water on the bathroom floor all the time and one can see water-borne insects in bathrooms”, she says. 

Jaishree narrates an incident where residents of Narmada Hostel found a dead lizard inside the tank of drinking water. “A lot of students had to go through health problems because of this”, she says.

Food woes

Asked about the quality of food on campus, students say that “It is like any other hostel in a central university.” However, Chandan Kumar, an ex-student of the university, says that there are times when students have to eat rice twice a day. “There is always a shortage of staff. So students are not served rotis because of this. The workers here tend to work at two hostels sometimes. It is really frustrating for students to eat rice for both meals”, he says.

Speaking on similar lines, Jaishree says that even the wardens are assigned two hostels to look after. “If we raise a concern about our hostel, it is likely that the warden would be busy with the other one. He can’t really address the matter because he is working three days here and three days at another hostel,” she says.

Almost all the rooms Patriot visited had some kind of water leakage problem and the walls were damp with seepage. Some of them were in such precarious condition that the plaster of the roof was falling off and students preferred to sleep on one side of the double-bed room. Students have also reported that they have to place buckets in their rooms when it rains or have to carry umbrellas inside the hostels.


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