It is a rush time for the admission in the Delhi University and there is an equal rush to hit the high cut off marks and the increasing number of students with the every passing year. Once the student gets over with the struggle of getting into a college another road of hurdles begins. A look out for a affordable, secure and hustle free accommodation becomes another challenge for the students to tackle. It is indeed an irony that one of the country’s most prestigious and favoured institution is starved of hostel facilities. As a whole, Delhi University is the conclave of 82 colleges with various types of courses at under graduate and post graduate levels but it has only 14 hostels available for PG and less than 10 for UG students, with a maximum of 250 head count capacity. It clearly states the pathetic situation of students coming for the admission from various corners of the country. It is a fact that around 50 per cent of the students are from out side Delhi.
Atma Ram Sanatan Dharma College(ARSD) has more than 800 seats for BA (Pass) course but there is not even a single accommodation available. Then why is ARSD still a favorite college for students? According to the Principal of the college Kavita Bhatia, it is simply because paying guest facilities are available at nearby locality like Satya Niketan, Moti Bagh, Nanakpura. But at the same time there is an availability of paying guest facility but at unusual high cost. It varies anywhere between Rs 3500- 4500 for a room excluding water and electricity. For food, students have to pay around 2000 rupees additional per month. The students become vulnerable as they prefer to stay near to college thus are forced to pay high rents, which become a burden for middle class families to bear.
“It is a grave cause of concern for us. I am a small businessman. But good education for my child is my prime target as there are no good colleges in my town,” Hukumchand accompanying his son Piyush from Purnia, Bihar said. Private accommodations are generally not very safe from the security point of view, especially for girls. Many incidents of molestation and eve-teasing have come in light according to the police authorities of adjoining areas of colleges. “We feel unsafe as we are away from our home town and family. Generally we return at our room before 7 pm,” said Jhanvi Singh who stays at Hudson Lane. Mukhrajee Nagar, Hudson Lane and Nehru Vihar are much favoured locations for students studying in North Campus. Though, some landlords have made special arrangements for girls but one can’t fully rely on them. Living conditions do not support the cordial atmosphere required for studies.
In south Delhi, Lady Sri Ram is the only women college, that has hostel facility for UG course, but strictly on the basis of the merit. And if one does not fall in the merit list then the person is out of the accommodation list as well, this is again because the hostel facility is not directly proportionate to the number of students enrolled with the college. Venkateswara college is adding a hostel this time and it is expected to be functional by August 2007. “The problem is multi-dimensional. Along with administrative barriers, colleges have to face financial shortages or funding for this and unavailability of land is another important issue,” said Jogesh Chadha, Deputy Dean of Students Welfare. According to the college principals money is indeed the prime concern for the shortage of accommodation. “Finance is the major problem and there is always scarcity of that. It is not just hostel facility which we lack but unavailability of gym, conference hall and library buildings is also what is equally essential,” said Ramesh Sharma, Principal of Moti Lal Nehru college.
The process of getting a hostel passed is also hectic. Proposal for building a hostel is to be placed before staff council. After getting it passed from here, it is put up at the governing body and later building committee addresses it. Then the proposed map is sent to Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and Delhi government.
Finally the proposal reaches University Grants Commission (UGC) for grants. It is a very long procedure and takes too of much time and effort as Ramesh Sharma accepted, “Filing process is too hectic and long to get the building cleared for construction.” Bhim Sen Singh, Principal of Kirori Mal College reiterated this view. ” We have sent the map for a hostel to MCD but we are still awaiting for the clearance. Without that we can’t start the construction which was very necessary for us.”ARSD college has ample space and money to provide a ‘decent’ hostel. “We don’t have problem of funding for hostel but MCD is producing hurdles as the civic body has to pass the outlay plan for any building to be constructed,” said Kavita Bhatia, Principal, ARSD college. Civic institutions like MCD and CPWD make thing worst by demanding various clearances. Some times colleges have to pay taxes at commercial rates to these civic bodies.
UGC, the prime governing body for central universities, the allocation of funds particularly for hostels is facing a shortage. “The hostels are on our priority list, especially for women. We are short of money but trying our best to overcome this genuine necessity. The hostels could be made with lesser number of rooms. At present, we give 25 lakh rupees for a hostel but we will increase it up to 2 crore rupees,” said Sukhdeo Thorat, chairman, UGC. Cases are different for different colleges because they are being governed by different administrative setups and structures. Take the case of Moti Lal Nehru college which gets 95 per cent of its funding from UGC and rest from Delhi government. Thus, it has to accommodate these two different institutions at different levels. Like if the college gets grants from UGC even then the Delhi government may produce any unwanted objection leaving the project in jeopardy. Colleges are not allowed to take fundings from outside or by innovating other sources for necessary money which could have facilitated the problem. But college like Venkateswara which is run by rich trusts, may not face similar problem.
As the accommodation problem is not new and the solution too appears to be far from reach, but it should be on the priority list not only for colleges and UGC but also for concerned civic authorities. Being the national capital and having four central universities in its fold, Delhi is bound to attract large number of students in the coming years and DU is going to be the centre of attraction for them. Therefore, solving it sooner than later would be a good move in the way to provide basic facility for the students for their bright future.