NIT Uttarakhand: No Permanent Campus Since 2009, More Than 200 Students Reach Jantar Mantar To Protest
The students of NIT, Uttarakhand have reached Jantar Mantar in Delhi to demand a safe and permanent campus. When The Logical Indian reached out to the students, they said they have exhausted all other means and after getting no response from the concerned authorities, they resorted to protest. They added that almost 200 students have already reached Jantar Mantar and there are no classes going on in the college. The students alleged that the authorities remarked that since the students have taken admission there, they are stuck.
The students approached the MHRD secretary, however, even after 55 days, there is no solution in sight. Even after repeated assurances from ministers and authorities, no concrete steps have been taken. The students vehemently say that if the facilities can’t be provided then why not return the fees and shut down the college. The students claim that even after repeated appeals to the MHRD minister Javadekar, the minister is busy in election campaigning instead of focusing on the issue.
October-December period is considered to be one of the most hectic for Engineering students, who are generally involved in their mid-semester exams and other important practical assignments during this time duration. Students are generally seen panicking from their workload and can be found working hard for their exams. But this year, the scene in National Institute of Technology, Uttarakhand (NITUK) campus in Srinagar Garhwal town is completely different. There is complete silence in the campus and you can only find sounds of chirping birds and vehicles passing on the National Highway-58 next to the campus.
The silence is not because of the fact that students have been given a mid-semester ad-hoc break, but it is a voluntarily exit taken by the college students. Almost 900 students from engineering streams (B.Tec h and M.Tech) and PhD scholars moved out of the college hostel on 23rd October after the college administration did not respond to students’ strike. The students were on strike since 4th October. The strike began after a third year B.Tech student, Neelam Meena, was hit and badly injured by a high-speed car on NH-58. The girl suffered severe injuries in her brain, chest, and spinal cord and was admitted to All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS), Rishikesh. As per the doctors, her lower part is still paralysed.
Students are demanding that their temporary campus should be shifted to a permanent one. The angry students have not attended a class since that day and have skipped their mid-semester exams that were supposed to start from 10th October. They have also refused to return to the college hostel until their demands are met by the college administration.
Temporary campus since 2009
National Institute of Technology (Uttarakhand) came into existence in 2009 under the Eleventh Five Year Plan as per which 10 new NITs were introduced. It started taking students from 2010 but till now, no permanent campus has been given to this institute. The current temporary campus is operated from two blocks – the first block houses college hostels and classes located on a government polytechnic campus and the second is a former ITI (Industrial Training Institute) campus consisting of college administration block and laboratories. These two blocks are separated by NH-58. Students have to cross this highway road for their laboratory classes, putting their lives in danger.
Ananta, a final year engineering student told The Logical Indian, “The area is very risky as there have been many cases in the past where students have narrowly escaped accidents. Neelam Meena (injured) was also going to attend a lab class on that day and was hit by a car. We have already complained about this dangerous situation to college authorities in the past as well. Since the last 2-3 years, we have been demanding a new location for our college. We also protested last year in August 2017, and a three-month timeline was given to us. But nothing happened after three months. This time our anger surfaced after Neelam’s accident and we demanded immediate action. We gave them 20 days to take any action but no positive response was given by them even after the deadline of 23rd October. After which we decided to leave hostels and not return until we get a new campus.”
Does anyone care about the students?
According to a report by The Indian Express, the academic record of the institute reflects the lack of basic facilities. In the period 2014-2017, no patent was registered and not a single research project was sponsored between 2015-2017.
The campus has already missed many deadlines in the past and was allotted 310 acres of land, at Sumari Village which is about 15 km away from the present setup, in December 2013. The institute was scheduled to run from that place by 2015.
In 2014, National Building Construction Corporation Ltd started construction in Sumari Village, giving an estimate of Rs 188.26 crore for site development and Rs. 315.75 crore for the first phase of construction. Reportedly, when the total amount was revised to Rs 1200 crore, the Ministry of Human Resource Development rejected this site.
Reportedly, in June 2017, the land at Sumari was declared to be “prone to landslide, earthquake and cloudburst” by the NITUK’s Civil Engineering Department.
RV Patel, Acting Director, NITUK, in the absence of Director Shyam Lal Soni, told The Logical Indian, ”We have been approaching government in the past and sending regular reports to them about the campus situation. Till now, nothing has been confirmed till now. We can follow the guidelines given by the state and central government. But, the final decision has to be taken by the state and central government.”
He also said, ”Students are requesting for new campus immediately. No class or lab has taken place since 4th October. Only a few students are left in the hostel now. We do not want students to suffer. We are trying to counsel them and their parents so that classes can resume shortly.”
The Logical Indian Take
The NITUK is an Institute of National Importance. Moreover, students prepare through blood, sweat and tears to get a seat in the coveted NITs. However, this college does not even have a permanent campus since its inception in 2009. Also, the lack of a permanent campus, which in itself is quite a big deal, is further amplified by the fact that the location of the current campus is not adequately safe for the students. The students have been protesting for years, and no solution has been found even after multiple accidents. If this is the bleak status of one of the country’s premier institutions of higher learning, then one can only shudder in despair thinking about the condition at other government institutions. Surely, someone has to be held accountable and responsible for this apathy. No matter what the land issues may be, this is nothing but callously playing with the future of bright-eyed individuals who are the future of this country.