MUMBAI: An old IIT adage from insiders who emphasise on well-being on the campus goes: “Even IITians need to sleep.” Now, it is taking on a new meaning.
IITs have woken up to a huge problem: There is no place to sleep on campus. IIT Bombay, for one, may be forced to partially outsource student housing when it allows students to get back and when social distancing norms are no longer required. A total of 8,853 beds (not rooms) will have to be allocated to 11,490 students. In IIT Guwahati, married scholars are allotted rooms as per a waiting list.
IIT Delhi has no land to build new hostels now. Discussions are on to demolish eight old hostels to construct new taller residential blocks but with a huge fund requirement and a public-private partnership model is being considered. Current infrastructure for a student population of about 10,000 at IIT Madras includes a total of 7,080 rooms and 9,043 cots (includes single, double, triple, quadruple and common rooms) in all hostels.
“Due to the pandemic, students entitled for the hostel facility are not encouraged to stay outside campus. Online teaching is helping this semester to tide over room constraints,” said the IIT-B spokesperson. “The number of students increases each year. In 2021, we will get around 1,000 extra rooms in a new hostel, but we will be short on space again soon after that, so we are focusing on building new hostels at IIT-B.” This isn’t merely a Powai problem though. Almost all older institutes have lodging constraints. Starting 2008 when the phase-wise OBC quota was rolled out, to supernumerary seats for foreigners and girls, and the most recent EWS quota, the last decade has seen massive intake expansion, with little focus and expenditure available for other campus facilities.
IIT-B also surveyed the count of OYO rooms around Powai and about 80 PhD students were put up in rented accommodation rooms in 2019. Similarly, thousands of IIT Delhi students stayed out of campus in 2019. “The issue is of funds and time, plus the hostels have a heritage value. We have a committee to look at the public-private model, under which we give the land. Someone will construct the hostels and run them and recover the money, over time,” said an IIT-D spokesperson.
However, currently living on campus is highly subsidised at Rs 1,500 per month. “If a private player comes in and charges more, what happens to those who can’t afford that fee,” said a source.
A committee helmed by professor Deepak Phatak is looking at all the older IITs where issues range from building highrise hostels, raising funds, working under a PPP model, which may up living rates at some IITs. “Almost all older IITs have structures that are 50-60 years old. They will have to be demolished and newly built. It won’t be fair to say anything more till the IIT council discusses the report,” he said.