WHAT'S THIS MESS?
The mess in KGP is nonetheless messier than anything in 2100 acres of this premier institute of national importance and has been one of the most important yet controversial issues pertaining in the campus for years. Be it the quality of food, the optional mess system or the demand of separate vegetarian and non-vegetarian mess, the issue is still unsolved and the administration is not looking in any position to solve it in the near future. These demands have been raised time and again in the past, but of no avail! Food is something that is related to our daily life at the most basic level. And if there are troubles happening over this sphere of life then it’s pathetic. We have been waiting for the changes to come. But this wait seems to be an infinite one. Being the media body of IIT KGP, it’s our responsibility to raise voice against any such problem and we expect that you all are with us.
HIKE IN THE MESS FEES: ONE MORE BLOW
As if the bad quality of food wasn’t enough, there was a big add on to this ever growing problem when the start of this semester saw a hike in the mess fees which varied with different Halls of Residence. A broader view tells us that the prices went up from Rs. 75 to Rs. 82 per day per student in the halls having private messes. But even this hike didn’t help in bringing any solution to the problems and yet again nothing visible improvement can be seen as far as the mess system, food’s quality and quantity is concerned. Also, the mess contractor of VS Hall has left citing almost no profits as the reason. What’s even more shocking is that the students of HJB hall have decided to stop their evening snacks to compensate for the increased mess fee. Isn’t it an alarming situation? These events are indicative of the possible problems that may arise in near future.
In a recently conducted meeting of HPs of various Halls of Residence and VP Gymkhana, several issues were raised including quality of the food, workers taking food from the messes even before the mess timings are over, behaviour of mess workers with the students etc. The most prominent issue was the number of workers in the mess. Most of our messes have exces workers. As per HMC, the number of workers in any mess should be (n/25 +1), n being the number of the students in the hall.
OVEREMPLOYMENT IN MESSES: TWIST IN THE TALE
We contacted some of the halls and found out that the difference between the number of workers required and actual number of workers working in the mess is too high. Let’s have a look.We were shocked to know that there are a lot more workers than required! There is no clue about how did this happen. Obviously, there is no point in having so many extra workers. We don’t need them. The rule clearly says, “The service provider should maintain the number of manpower in such a way that it should not exceed the maximum number limit”. We asked many KGPians and most of them feel that these many workers are not at all required in the mess as most of the workers can be seen doing nothing or doing some small works which can be easily done even with a smaller number of people. Also, there is no plausible explanation of the fact that we are paying for the wages of those extra workers.
LOCAL BODY’S INFLUENCE
Some sources reveal that the contractor has no control over the workers as they are employed by the worker’s union which is highly influenced by the West Bengal’s politics and this may be one of the reasons behind the resignation of the VS hall’s mess contractor who was a non-local contractor. Few sources even say that the workers sent by the Union are lethargic and they don’t work properly. So, in order to run the mess, the contractor engages his own workers to cook and they are paid at the cost of compromising the quality of food. Only the time will tell us that up to what extent these allegations are true. We have seen the dominance of contractors over a lot of issues since KGP is far off from cities. So, competitiveness is very very less as far as contractors are concerned. They just do anything they like and we have very few contractors to choose from. Thus, we remain almost helpless in such a situation.
All we know is that this issue is of utmost importance and it has been decided in the meeting to take it to the administration as soon as possible. We want your feedback in the comment section if you agree with the points raised in the meeting or if you have any other problem which the Vice-President and the media bodies can raise and present to the administration.
Here is the information regarding mess system in other IITs. We are thankful to Atal Ashutosh Agarwal, Vice President (Technology Students Gymkhana) for leaving no stone unturned and helping out in this issue. Have a look and compare theirs with ours.
- Mess Fees: 12,000 per semester
- No mess option filling system.
- Mess menu is decided by Mess Counselor
- Non Veg: only once in a week
- Breakfast Basics are same like IIT KGP (bread, butter, jam)
- Lunch & Dinner: 1 Curry or sometimes 2 curries, Rice, Dal
- Compulsory to pay mess Fees: no mess fee exemption.
- No Add on System
- Mess Fees: 84 rupees per day, 123 working days (123 x 84 = 10332)
- Centralized Mess System: 4 messes - North Indian, South Indian, East Indian and West Indian. Student needs to choose one of these before the semester begins and has to continue eating in that mess. However, they can switch to another mess but only on monthly basis.
- They also have a Food Court System i.e., If a student doesn't want to eat in a mess they can get a monthly coupon of their mess fees and eat in the food court using coupon and paying additional money.
- No Mess Option filling system.
- Semester wise contract
- Breakfast: Bread, Jam, Butter, Milk, Coffee or Tea, any tiffin item like Pongal, Dosa)
- Lunch and Dinner: Roti, Rice, 2 Curries, Dal or Sambar, Papad, Salad.
- Extras like Egg curry or chicken or other item they take by paying at that moment itself
- Smart Card system will be implemented from next semester where students can take extras with smart card the money of the food item will added to their Fees. Note: Smart Card system only for extras.
- Mess fees semester - 15,000
- Money gets refunded if the student doesn't want to take a meal. They need to inform beforehand.
- Non veg extras
- Remaining food items other than non veg are available to all
- 87 rupees per day (basic cost)
- Basics are almost similar to IIT KGP. Milk, Parathas or Dosa etc. are also included in Basic
- Have basic curry system
- Basic: 45 rps per day (fluctuates)
- Monthly fees system
- Basic: Bread +Jam + Milk or Puri Sabji (any tiffin item) +Milk
- Rice, Dal, Basic Curry , Roti
- Add Ons are available and menu is changed monthly wise
- Both private and Govt. Mess System
- Mess Fees: 17,000 per semester
- Basic Similarly to KGP including morning tiffins (Dosa, Puri etc.) and curries are included in lunch and dinner.
IIT KGP vs OTHER IITs
What we observe is that the other IITs have a far better mess system than ours. They are provided with alternatives in case they don’t like to eat mess food. There are better food items and quality too. They are not compelled to pay mandatory fees for mess. Though mess fees are higher in some IITs, it is made sure that students get the quality food for which they are paying. Also, they have the provision of refunding the mess fees and coupon system. In KGP, food quality is compromised a lot as well as there are lot of interference in the functioning of messes. Other IITs don’t have that much hindrances in this process.
It’s saddening to see that not a single measure has been taken for the betterment of messes. Lots of complaints and suggestions of students are still inadequate to make the concerned authorities take some bold decisions. Only God knows what will make them to do so! How long will we continue to wait? However, we will keep on raising the issue again and again until it gets solved. The impending dangers due to those problem are huge. Students fall ill very frequently and there have been many cases in which a particular has even suffered from chronic pains. Subsequently, their studies get hampered.
What we can conclude is that hike in mess fees is eventually not so bad if the quality of food is raised to at least an optimum level. But what stands out negative is that even if after hiking the fees, What if the quality remained same? What if it degraded? If this happens will the old fees be reinstated?
The answers to above questions are still far away from our reach and subsequently we are making an appeal to the student community to raise their voice in unison against this issue and help us to make a change.
Stay united, stay strong!
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