The bomb that exploded a semester ago returned again as the semester was about to end. A new circular has emerged regarding the Hostel Overhead Charges(HOH), which is collected from each student per semester, that has increased by about 190% from Rs 8,250 to Rs 15,200. As expected, the student community was not in agreement of this decision. The resentment was huge and can be seen in the recent poll that we had organized.
A meeting was desired before any such decision could be made. On 23rd Sept. 2016 at 5 in the evening a meeting was held to calculate the HMC overhead charge to be effective from the next semester. Following members were present in the meeting.
- Dean, Student’s affairs, Chairman
- Chairman(HMC), Member
- Coordinating warden(mess1), member
- Coordinating warden(mess2), member
- Warden MMM Hall, member
- Warden RK Hall, member
- Assistant Registrar (Establishment), member
The meeting held made various calculations and finally came up the recommendation of the hike in the HOH charges.
The 7th Pay Commission
The 7th pay commission can be considered as one of the major reason behind this hike. As a result of which the salaries of both the HMC and contractual sweeping staffs have been increased. The salary of temporary workers has increased from Rs.278 per day to Rs.350 per day.
Tax and Wage Sharing
One more reason behind this hike is the new policy of Tax and wage sharing. Currently, all students bear the cost towards salary and benefits of HMC employees and all outsourced sweeping workers. It has been decided that the salary of all private mess workers and tax on food served in private messes should as well be shared by all students so that those staying in halls with private mess are not disadvantaged.
Grief of the Smaller Halls
There is also an increase in the HOH from 300 to 600. This amount is used to pay towards the annual maintenance of aqua guards,coolers, roti making machines, repairs of machines in mess, repair of flood lights in grounds[footer, cricket etc.] of hall, purchase of any new machines in mess, any new construction like badminton court etc and allied activities. The smaller halls were not able to cope with all of these with just a small amount of 300. Also, there is an increment in the comprehensive menu in all the halls to Rs. 95 per person. So, due to these factors, the HOH has increased from 300 to 600.
Poll and the Views
This ‘Poll of the Week” got immense response from each corner of the campus whether it was the BTech students or the MTechs, the Ph.D students or the research scholars, everyone participated and expressed their views.
Number of responses: 585
- 54.7% of them believed that the conditions are poor and this hike is not going to help anyhow.
- 9.57% believed that the 190% increase was a bit too much.
- 19.49% were upset regarding the time, as just a semester ago another hike was made.
- However a mere 10.94% were in complete favour of this increase out of which 2.91% believed that the 7th pay commission was solely responsible for this increase.
A Small Comparison
Firstly, let us see the total fee distribution in various iits.
Forget the QS rankings, at least here IITKgp definitely leaves behind its sister iits. On one hand IITD charges its students as low as Rs 115,300 and on the other IITKgp charges as high as Rs 143,026 but larger student intake and a larger campus to maintain gives justification for such a gap.
There was a bit of competition for Kgp in the previous graph when it came to the total fee taken but in this one no one is even closer to our Kgp, a clear cut winner. The graph would have been more socialist if the previously used HOH (Rs. 8,250) was used but this 15,200 took the cake. On one hand some IITs are charging as low as 2,000, Kgp is 7 to 8 fold higher than them.
Burst of the Anger
On a cold wednesday evening, the tension increased when the density around the HMC building swelled. A large number of research scholars gathered and marched together from gymkhana to main building covering Hall Management Centre at around 5 PM today. The March was in order to submit a petition with the signature of approximately 1100 scholars to Chairman HMC, Dean PGS & Research Scholars, DOSA (Dean of Student Affairs) and Director's Offices. The synopsis and the demands of the protest goes as:
- The expenses under Hostel Establishment Charges are unjustified so it should be rolled back.
- Research scholars availing hostel facilities are not provided with House Rent Allowance so per head charge of 3174 for that purpose is not justified and they should be exempted from them.
- Research scholars, not availing hostel facilities (students staying in VSRC, G-type quarters, Zakir Hussain Apartments and outside campus) should be the exempted from the Hostel Seat Rent and Hostel Establishment Charges.
They told that the research scholars are the hardest hit section, with their limited income and effectively zero benefits, have been facing monotonically increasing fee, semester after semester. Further, the scholars told that the hike in the fee is unethical as a substantial section of the research scholars here have to support their family using this stipend and will not be able to make ends meet if this fee hike is implemented.
HMC office woke up as the sound of the protest was a bit too high. HMC office has taken their petition and assured the protesters that further decisions in this regard will be taken latest by Friday midnight. Taking this, the protest was called off and and everyone is now waiting for that “Friday Midnight”.
We don’t know how much fruitful it’ll turn out, but surely the “Junta” is not in a jolly mode right now.