RAICHUR, October 12: As many as 130 students, including 10 girls, studying in Yeragera postgraduate centre of Gulbarga University, have been starving for two days now. Reason: the university hostel mess suddenly shut down.
The students are finding it tough to appease their hunger as the college is situated around 20 km from Raichur in an isolated rural area.
The students said the contractor, to whom the hostel has been outsourced to, abruptly closed the kitchen on Friday when they questioned him on the poor quality and quantity of food served.
“The food offered to us was not good. We questioned the contractor, as we pay him a monthly mess bill of Rs. 1,300, apart from the one-time mess deposit of Rs. 2,500 and yearly hostel room rent of Rs. 4,500. He forced us to starve by closing the hostel kitchen just two days after he opened it,” said Pratap Kumar, a second-year M.Sc. student of the Instrumentation Technology course. The mess was opened on October 8, though it was supposed to open on September 1.
When The Hindu visited the hostel on Sunday morning, more than 80 students, including the 10 girls, whose homes were within Raichur taluk, had deserted the hostel, unable to bear the hunger. The remaining 40 students, their homes being as far away as Bijapur, Bagalkot, Yadgir, Koppal and other districts, were subsisting on very little. They had pooled together Rs. 20 each to buy rice and vegetables. Now they are worried, as their money is running out.
“We don’t have enough money either to arrange food for the coming days or even to go back to our homes,” said one student.
Adding fuel to the fire, the only borewell pumpset at the centre stopped working on Saturday. The students have gone without bathing since then, as they want to save the water in the tank for drinking purposes. The students had brought the issues to the notice of in-charge warden and assistant librarian G.S. Biradar and Special Officer of the PG centre, P. Bhaskar. “Except giving assurances, these officials did nothing. The contractor’s mobile phone is always switched off,” said the students.
Mr. Bhaskar said the contractor was not heeding the authorities. “I have asked the contractor to immediately start providing food to hungry students, but he has not done it,” he said. We will make alternative arrangements and take action against the errant contractor, he added.
The students said the situation was better in previous years, when the hostel was maintained by the university. When contacted, Deputy Commissioner of Raichur Sasikanth S. Senthil, who said he was unaware of the issue, added, “I will immediately talk to the Vice-Chancellor of Gulbarga University and make alternative arrangements.”