'5000 of us, just four buses': Why Pondicherry University students have been protesting for a year

The Student Federation of India has been protesting since October 2021 demanding better bus transportation inside Pondicherry University. 

Published: 09th January 2023 04:44 PM  |   Last Updated: 09th January 2023 04:44 PM   |  A+A-

Pondicherry University students stand on the footpath of the already overcrowded bus. (Photo | Special Arrangement)

Pondicherry University students stand on the footpath of the already overcrowded bus. (Photo | Special Arrangement)

Online Desk

Students travelling to classes in bulldozers, tractors and JCBs! This is a regular sight inside Pondicherry University. Try asking any of them and they will most likely tell you how they have given up waiting for the 'only four buses' available for the 5000 of them to travel within their university. 

Pondicherry University is situated within a 900-acre campus and most students have to cover at least two kilometres to reach their classrooms, canteen, and hostels. Each trip then takes nearly 15 to 25 minutes daily.

In an attempt to solve this problem, the Student Federation of India (SFI) has been protesting since October 2021 demanding better bus transportation inside Pondicherry University. 

More than a year on, we are still protesting for the exact same reason, said Vijeesh, the SFI secretary.

"Earlier, these buses were used to transport the day scholars but the services for them have been completely stopped after the pandemic with no explanation," he said.

And although the administration had promised to hire buses to run in the campus, that too hasn't been implemented efficiently yet, he added.

"Our classes start at 9.30 am. We have to walk all the way from our hostel rooms to the mess and report for the first period at 9.30 am. This walking marathon keeps going on for the entire day. We have to keep moving on from one building to another for lunch, practicals, sports...," Vijeesh continued. "Imagine having to walk two km for lunch when you are hungry."

Only one out of the four buses is exclusively for students. The other three are used both by the staff and the students.

Gopi, a second-year MA Sociology student, was also vocal in expressing his displeasure. 

"We are expected to have a minimum of 75% attendance to be able to write our final exams. The students lose attendance because they miss the only bus available for the 5000 students," he said.

Pondicherry University students sitting on top of the bus. (Photo | Special Arrangement)

Gopi added that there's no way even the three other buses can carry all students to their respective classes, labs, canteen and hostel rooms. 

Vijeesh said it used to be different before the university shut down the campus following the Covid-19 outbreak. 

"Before the pandemic, there were enough buses with an equally good number of drivers. After the pandemic, the university opened to students in batches and by September 2021, the university allowed all the students to come to the campus. But the bus facility is still not at pre-Covid levels even after a year. Ironically, the numbers of students enrolled have exceeded the pre-Covid numbers but the numbers of buses have reduced," he said. 

The students don't know what happened to the buses or to the staff employed to run them. 

They point out that not everyone can come to the university in their own vehicles. In such a vast campus, the 'four buses for 5,000 students' concept defeats the whole purpose it is meant to serve, they emphasise.

The students say those in the administration know the full extent of their woes.

"They take the same route as the students to reach classrooms inside the university. They see the students standing on footboards and sitting on top of the buses every day," Vijeesh underlines.

He blames the administration of ignoring the students' needs despite the lack of buses being brought to their notice umpteen times.

Their stock reply, according to Vijeesh: "We will release a new bus schedule." No one is ready to take responsibility or solve the issue, he stated.

There is a bigger worry.

Two days ago, one of the drivers refused to start the bus because of overcrowding. 

"God forbid if anything happens and we lose our college mates, our friends because of one such incident," a pensive Vijeesh warned. "The roads inside the university are in such a pathetic state and so poorly maintained that it is a miracle we haven't had an accident yet," he added.


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  • A Vijay Kumar

    Hostel students should buy a bicycle. Even I was a hosteler in Pondicherry Central University
    2 months ago reply
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