Uttarakhand’s Ambedkar Hostels a Failure, Do SC Students Matter?
Video Editor: Prashant Chauhan
Of the 20 percent Scheduled Caste population in Uttarakhand, only a small part is able to avail of higher education, for which they have to move away from their homes and villages. Unfortunately, their caste status does not get left behind. Even in cities, students are unable to get accommodation owing to their caste.
In view of the problems SC/ST students face, Dr BR Ambedkar Hostels have been set up in every district headquarter by the Social Welfare Department of the Uttarakhand government. However, the condition of these hostels is deplorable. We, the students, are not just deprived of basic sanitation but also of good-quality food. Several issues persist.
Almost all the hostels are built at a considerable distance from the colleges. Students have to travel long distances, making them inaccessible. Sometimes this distance ranges 5 to 10 kilometers, like Ambedkar Hostel Falseema in Almora, which is about 8-10 kilometers away from the college. Students, already impoverished, have to incur further costs of transportation. Separate hostels for girls should also be arranged as per rules, but there are only two Ambedkar hostels for girls in the entire state.
Food & Sanitation
The second biggest problem related to hostels is that of food. As per the rules, there should be a mess arranged in these hostels. This is far from the truth. Wherever this arrangement exists, it is run on contract and food is provided to the students at the rate of Rs 69 per student, per day, so good quality is not guaranteed.
Nandlal, a student, told me that for breakfast, students get only suji and biscuits. Menus exist only on paper.
Infrastructure, cleanliness, toilets, and security in the hostels is very poor. Due to dilapidated structures, students’ lives are at risk. The authorities have turned a deaf year and are not paying any attention to this.
Thirdly, medical care. As per the rules, a paramedic should be appointed by the Social Welfare Department for emergencies in all hostels, but in most hostels there is no such arrangement.
Fourth, the demand for an Ambedkar Library. For a long time, students have been demanding that an Ambedkar Library should be made in every hostel so that in addition to competitive examinations, other books can also be read. Due attention has not been given to this either.
We have tried discussing our problems with the Social Welfare officer, District Magistrate, our MLA, the Social Welfare minister, and the chief minister. When we try to put our points across, we can see that the provisions made for us in our Constitution only exist in writing. In reality, they don't exist. Neither do we.
(The Quint spoke to BR Arya from the Social Welfare Department of the Uttrakhand government who said that the matter has been looked into and grievances of the students will be taken up by the District Magistrate for a speedy solution.)
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