PITHORAGARH (Uttarakhand): The Berlin Wall is intact and so is the Soviet Union. This is the impression you get if you browse the books in the library at a government college here, according to a student leader.
"90 per cent of the books at the library are outdated editions," Mahendra Singh Rawat, a student leader at Government PG College, Pithoragarh said.
"According to the political science books available in the college library, the Soviet Union is still existent, the Berlin wall is intact and the cold war between the two superpowers of the Soviet Union and the US is still on," he said.
Rawat, Students Union President Rakesh Joshi along with other students of the college have been sitting on a dharna since the last month against keeping outdated editions in the library.
"Though the college library has more than one lakh books, 90 per cent of them are outdated editions which are of no use to students," Bhagwan Singh Rawat, former students union president of the college, said.
The agitators demand that the college should immediately replace the old editions with the latest edition of books. "The college gets no special grants for buying books for the library. The money spent over the books comes from the monthly fees paid by students (Rs 5 per head) which is barely enough to meet the book requirements of a single department, let alone those of the entire college," Mahendra Singh said.
The agitating students also alleged that while the college was giving admission to thousands of students every year, the number of books available to them is a meagre number.
Speaking on the row, Pithoragarh PG College Principal D S Pangti attributed the problem to the college having more students than its sanctioned strength.
"Books are being regularly purchased. We purchased books worth Rs 2.30 lakh in 2012, but the problem arises when we are put under pressure to give admission to students beyond our strength," he said.
The principal said despite the sanctioned strength of 240 students in Science and 840 in Humanities, the current strength is 700 students in Science and 1,700 in Humanities.
He also said that the latest edition of books, especially in the Science stream, have become expensive.
"If these books are purchased, we are not able to buy the books of other subjects due to limited money at our disposal. With that limited amount, books for all 24 subjects have to be purchased. We are not in a position to purchase costly books," Pangti added.
Uttarakhand Higher Education Director S C Pant, however, denied the allegations.
He asserted that the directorate was giving regular grants to each government college to buy books every year.
"Besides, the colleges are also entitled to purchase books from their own funds," he said.
"We have full strength of teachers, except 45 contractual, 59 evening faculty and 263 guest teachers who are on vacation and will soon resume duties from this month," Pant said.
Meanwhile, Uttarakhand Higher Education Minister Dhan Singh Rawat expressed doubts over the involvement of "non-students" in the agitation to foment trouble on the campus.
"Firstly, it will have to be ascertained that the agitation is purely by students and meant to advance academic standards on the campus. If it is found to be genuine, the students' demands for updated editions of books will be met soon," he said.
On the faculty strength of the college, the minister said, "The college has 1.20 lakh books with 102 teachers for over 6,000 students, while some other colleges have smaller faculty and lesser number of books in their libraries."