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Narasimharaja Hostel: Is this a hostel or a cesspool?

As many as eight students are crammed into each room that is built to accommodate just two.

Published: 27th August 2018 02:38 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th August 2018 02:38 AM   |  A+A-

Pitiful condition of Social Welfare Dept’s Narasimharaja Hostel

Express News Service

Students, who are rightful inmates of 80-year-old Narasimharaja Hostel for backward class students, are unable to live there, let alone focus on studies, with overstaying ex-students, excess crowding and exposure to bad company. This has happened after two hostels were merged a year ago by the Social Welfare Department

BENGALURU: Eighty-year-old Narasimharaja Hostel, one of the oldest among 60 hostels under the Social Welfare Department (SWD) in the city on Tippu Sultan Fort road in Chamarajpet — land for which was donated exclusively for empowerment of SC/ST communities by the Mysore Maharaja in 1908 — has turned into a cesspool due to the apathetic attitude from the department. Former students continue to overstay without authorisation, toilets are unhygienic and rooms crammed.

This has been documented in a report by the Bengaluru District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) Member Secretary, who submitted it to the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority after his recent visit to this hostel.

As many as eight students are crammed into each room that is built to accommodate just two. This is being done to accommodate 194 students (including 64 students from high school) from SC/ST and other backward class communities. And this has happened after the pre-metric (up to tenth standard) and post-metric hostels (PUC and above) were merged and located in the same three-storied building.
A year ago, the ‘mixed hostel’ emerged there with senior officials from the Social Welfare Department approving a social welfare officer’s recommendation on merging the post-metric hostel in Kengeri with the pre-metric hostel behind IMA building. With the shifting of post-metric hostel from Kengeri to Chamrajpet, Narsimharaja hostel has witnessed clashes between the high school and college-going students.
A high school student from Mandya, on condition of anonymity, told CE that his friends staying in hostel had fallen into bad company and had lost interest in studies.
“It is difficult to study in the hostel as students who are not inmates create a huge ruckus,’’ the student said.
“Ever since the post-metric hostel was shifted, many parents submitted complaints to the warden and shifted their children from Narasimharaja hostel to other hostels,’’ an official in SWD admitted.
“I am from a poor agrarian family, and my school is close to the hostel, I cannot think of relocating to another one,’’ a high school student said. With total admissions exceeding the sanctioned strength of inmates, the infrastructure has begun to crumble.  

PURE LACK OF WILL

“There is no difference between Bengaluru slums and hostels run by Social Welfare Department,” declares B Rajashekar Murthy, convenor of Dalit Rights Committee (DRC). In 2009, Murthy, as secretary of state Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), had protested against pathetic conditions of hostels and had submitted a memorandum to then-chief minister, demanding implementation of basic facilities. “The boarders are denied free text books and sports equipment,” he lamented. Murthy said neither the officials nor minister shared a sincere desire to empower SC/ST and backward classes. The launch of the helpline and other initiatives are mere lip service.

“The department’s hostel in RT Nagar does not look like a hostel. Hostels run by private entities are far better than the PG hostels run by the Social Welfare Department. The pathetic state of affairs in SWD’s hostel is due to huge vacancy in posts of warden, clerk and others. In fact, prisoners get more food than the inmates in hostels,’’ he charged.

The activist said department did not suffer from lack of resources, but lack of will. “During the previous government, about `13,000 crore under SC/ST sub plan went back. The crores spent on organising International Ambedkar Festival could have been spent on improving basic facilities in the hostel. Officials suffer from a mindset that they are offering everything free of cost only to SC/ST and backward class communities. The neglect will continue unless poor students from other communities are also admitted into hostels run by the department,” he stresses.

During a visit to the Narasimharaja Hostel, City Express found nearly half a dozen toilets choked with human waste, which were unfit for usage. Due to shortage of toilets, students confessed to urinating and

defecating behind the hostel, out in the open. The hostel’s backyard, with unhygienic garbage and construction debris strewn around, seemed like a urban landfill. With water seeping into a godown filled with discarded furniture and other items, the entire area reeked. The bio-metric attendance system (for
students) was also found dysfunctional.

BIOMETRICS, SOLAR SYSTEM VANDALISED

High school students accused senior students of vandalising the bio-metric attendance system (in order to facilitate unauthorised stay of their friends) and the roof-top solar system (three kw) to deny them (high school students) hot water.

Social Welfare Department Minister Priyank Kharge, has assured that within 48 hours, a notice will be issued to wardens to evict those staying in hostels without authorisation. “Wardens will be placed under suspension if students are found staying illegally in the hostel. As there are no standard operating procedures for running a model hostel, an expert committee had been set up to study the 3,500 hostels across the state and categorise them as ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’. Hostels under ‘A’ category will be the best-run hostels, and the expert committee will make recommendations on how to bring ‘B’ and ‘C’ hostels under the ‘A’ category.

The committee will study private-run hostels, after which they will recommend improvements in food and cleanliness. Hostel warden Nanjundiah, when contacted, informed that work had begun on laying a new sewage pipeline. “But hostel inmates paid no heed to warnings and used the toilet, resulting in its choking,’’ he clarified. The bio-metric system was set right and attendance of inmates was being uploaded online, he claimed.



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