Bhubaneswar has transformed into an education hub with mushrooming institutions drawing thousands of students to pursue their dream. The floating population doesnt only include students but working professionals too. But when it comes to accommodation, apart from a few reputed institutes which take care of the students’ stay, most student and working professionals’ search for a proper hostel ends in misery.
Ananya from Jajpur came to the city to pursue a computer course. Today she puts up with three other girls in a room which is devoid of furniture and ventilation. ‘’There is hardly any space to walk. There is no ceiling fan and all four of us have to make do with one table fan. And for all this, house owners charge ` 1800 per person,’’ complained Ananya. However, she also admits that there is no other option since better accommodation would cost the students dear.
Taking advantage of the demand by gullible students mostly from rural areas, several brokers and house owners exercising monopoly and charge double or even more than what the actual rent should be since options for students and working mass is very less.
‘’How can one expect a student to shell out ` 2000 just for a room? First of all we are not earning. Secondly, there are other expenses like travelling, food and other daily requirements. College authorities turn a deaf ear to our pleas. What choice do we have, either we compromise or we ruin our career,’’ said a college student.
The owners and brokers charge ` 2,000 to ` 3,500 for a 2/6 bed. Not only rooms even their business extends to food. There are several private parties who provide food to these students at ` 20 to ` 30 per meal. These meals are provided in poly bags in an unhealthy way. To make matters even worse, no electronic gadgets including a laptop or computers are allowed. There are extra charges an inmate needs to pay to access the laptop.
‘’We have to eat these meals since the house owners do not allow us to cook. Three meals a day amounts up to around ` 2000 per month. So the minimum requirement to survive in Bhubaneswar is approximately ` 6,000 to ` 7,000 a month. Not all can spend this much,’’ said another engineering student.
The problem is not less for the working professionals who migrate to the city. Sandhya teaches at a coaching centre in Bhubaneswar and lives in a dingy room with two others. She had to leave her four-year-old son back home to put up in a ladies hostel as taking a single room was beyond her capacity.
‘’With a paltry ` 4,000 salary a month, how can I pay ` 3,000 just for accommodation?’’ she argues. Such instances are dime a dozen and there are many like Sandhya who sustain on a shoestring budget after taking a room in the city on rent.
The education hub is turning into a hub for the blood sucking house owners and brokers. Its time the State government took up the issue seriously and initiated hostels that can come to the rescue of the students and working professionals in providing them an average dwelling place.