CHENNAI: The Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare Department is planning to implement a new hostel management system for 1,383 hostels in the state at a cost of Rs 27 crore. The system will include CCTV cameras, internet facilities and facial recognition-based biometric systems for tracking attendance.
The initiative aims to ensure the safety and security of hostel students. About five years ago, CCTV cameras were installed at the hostels. Now, the department has decided to establish a comprehensive hostel management system integrated with a central monitoring solution, which will also include features such as inventory management for canteen items and hostel assets, said officials.
However, wardens working in the welfare hostels said the department should first constitute a committee to assess whether the hostels possess the necessary capacity to accommodate all students before implementing the initiative. In several hostels, especially in Chennai, students from the community do not get accommodation as there are not enough seats in the hostels.
“These students often end up staying temporarily with their friends until they can figure out other low-cost accommodations. There have also been instances where non-students reside in hostels due to political influence. The department must ensure that there are adequate seats in the hostels to accommodate students,” said a warden from Chennai.
Members of the Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare Department Teachers-Warden Federation pointed out that similar systems were unsuccessfully introduced in hostels and tribal schools in the state previously. “We agree the system would help ensure safety, especially for girls. CCTV cameras have been installed in hostels before but the department didn’t ensure they were maintained properly, which made them dysfunctional."
"Biometric systems in tribal schools were introduced in 2019 but they are not functioning in almost all schools due to problems, including lack of internet connectivity. We are wondering why would the government spend crores of rupees on this system again when it has earlier failed to implement it properly,” said an association member.