Fed up with lack of basic amenities and proper infrastructure at NIT Manipur, all the 912 students of the technical institute have threatened to quit if the authorities fail to address their grievances. The students, who have been on sit-in-protests outside the institute's administrative block since 21 January, are demanding proper classrooms, hostel facilities, books in the library, a functional auditorium, and well-maintained campus.
Sumit, a second-year civil engineering student from Bihar, said NIT Manipur is a disgrace to the idea of NIT. Pointing at hole-punctuated walls, dilapidated ceilings and broken tables and benches in classrooms, Sumit said that the campus lacks even functional drainage and a garbage management system, causing great inconvenience to the students.
“We come here after a lot of hard work and a long, competitive process. But what we have found here are broken walls. The campus is similar to a jungle. During the rains, it gets flooded compelling us to fold our trousers up to our knees to go to class," he informs.
The engineering student also complains of poor accommodation being provided in the institute-run hostels, and how eight to seven students are compelled to share a room. "We’re only demanding proper classroom and proper accommodation. If you see our accommodation you will be shocked. We’re literally living like animals,” he said.
Abhay Kumar from Uttar Pradesh, a second-year student at NIT Manipur, says that he was delighted when the Centre announced 10 percent reservation for economically weaker sections from the General category in national institutes, however, his optimism is nipped by the condition prevailing in the institute. He says that all the 912 students enrolled in NIT Manipur have resolved to quit the institute if the concerned authorities fail to listen to their demands and make earnest efforts to address their grievances. "The 10 percent reservation would have no meaning if one lands up in an institution like this. This is a great loss for us. If the authorities continue to ignore our grievances, we may have to quit the college,” he says.
NIT Manipur was established by the MHRD in 2010 along with 10 other NITs, whereas, the construction started in 2011 at an approved cost of Rs 250 crore. However, a revised proposal of Rs 330 crores was put up before the ministry’s expenditure finance committee. However, a panel of the ministry, which visited the campus, raised questions over the manner in which the money was spent even when the suitability of the site was in doubt. Insisting that the suitability of the site, needs to be reassessed because of problems of waterlogging, the panel has called for an inquiry so that responsibility can be fixed for the "lapses" in decision making.
A project monitoring unit (PMU) of the MHRD also visited the site and recommended an audit of expenses incurred towards the creation of facilities on the site. Besides the MHRD, NIT Manipur director Goutam Sutradhar, who took charge of the institute last year, had also reported diversion of funds. The Director had revealed that the quality of construction, carried out by a state government agency was poor with cracks being noticed on the walls and the floors. The MHRD then ordered a CBI probe into the allegations of misappropriation of funds and banned all construction work on the site.
This, however, created a lot of problems for the 912 students who are currently enrolled in the institute.
Reacting to the students’ protest, Professor Khumanthem Manglem Singh, the registrar-in-charge of NIT Manipur, said that the institute is the Government of India's responsibility and that it should ensure that the institute progresses in the right direction and that students, faculty and all members of staff of the institute do not suffer due to cases of "some financial misappropriation".
Admitting lack of proper facilities, and that the institute is being run using temporary infrastructure, Singh also questions the suitability of the site. “The problem is that whatever we’ve built is slowly sinking down as the campus is located in a low-lying area. And because the MHRD has imposed a restriction, we cannot go for other constructions," he says.
The lack of infrastructure has also affected NIT Manipur’s ranking amongst the NITs in the country. Students claim that the NIT Manipur's ranking has dropped from 15th position to 28th because of lack of proper infrastructure. However, Singh claims that out of the 10 NITs created in 2010, NIT Manipur is doing quite well.
"All the 10 NITs which were established in 2010, including Manipur, have poor infrastructure. The Delhi NIT is an exception as it is located in the national capital. As far as NIT Manipur is considered, it does not lag much behind the other newly established NITs. Comparatively, we have more classrooms, more hostels and we certainly have one of the largest numbers of students. We’ve 912 students. This is because we’ve started offering BTech in five different engineering branches and three MSc courses — Physics, Chemistry and Maths. Currently, we are offering B Tech, MTech and PhD courses.”
Singh said that the MHRD needs to complete the investigation as soon as possible and take steps to address the grievances raised by the students. He added that vacancies in faculty also need to be filled soon. So far, out of the 54 sanctioned posts for teaching staff, NIT Manipur has only 32 members as part of the regular teaching staff. If one were to consider the national teacher-school ratio, the sanctioned posts should go up to 76, he claims.
While it is unclear as to when the students will return to their classes, a bright side to the development in the status of NIT Manipur is that MHRD officials who recently visited the campus assured that some funds could be provided to complete some of the priority building.
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Updated Date: Jan 30, 2019 13:29:38 IST