HYDERABAD: For generations, people-mostly from marginalised communities-have made Osmania University their home but even as the government is prepping up for a grand centenary celebrations for the varsity, there is hardly any reason to worry for the 5,000-odd persons living in these eleven slums, known as ‘camps’ in the campus.
While most of their ancestors have helped build the university, literally, the present generations too continue to labour for OU in a variety of ways working as contract workers to maintain university’s electrical connections, labs, gardens, buildings, messes and hostels sans any employee benefits like Provident Fund. However, there are no examples to cite from these eleven camps of anyone even stepping into the university either as a student or as professor, and continue to live in inhuman living conditions.
Open-defecation is the norm
A third generation contract labourer, B Sudhakar, is a resident of Camp-4. His grandfather had migrated from Karimnagar and worked as construction worker here. He lives with his wife, widowed sister and four children in a worn out shanty.
“I am afraid my house might collapse anytime, especially when it rains. But I have no choice. The varsity does not allow us to construct a new house as we live on university land.” Speaking on the issue of open defecation, his wife Leelavathi says, “Everyone has to go into the surrounding bushes to defecate. It has been like this since decades. We are not allowed to built toilets.”
Rehmat Begum, aged 55, works as a cook at the ladies hostel in OU and is a resident of Camp 5. She is one of the few people to have a toilet, however it is a dry latrine that is used by her neighbours as well. She says, “There are no sewage lines so we have to construct dry toilet. Every 2-3 months we have to spend around `1800 for getting the latrines cleared through machines.”
Narayana, another resident, says, “Why is it that the university has problem in allowing us to live in a small piece of land when big shots like HPS Ramanthapur, Swagath Grand Hotel and theatre owners are allowed to encroach.”
Meanwhile, Uppal BJP MLAm NVSS Prabhakar says, “Before the centenary celebrations I will launch a 48-hour hunger strike seeking justice for residents of camps in OU, most of whom are dalits and minorities.”