The Government Medical College in Siddipet has been on the boil for the past two days as over 300 students have been staging dharna at the college, demanding basic facilities at the hostel as well as the college.
According to the students, the college and even the hostel, do not have basic facilities like drinking water, electricity, transport facilities, quality food in mess. They have also complained of a lack of accessibility to the library.
The students boycotted their classes on Saturday and gave a representation to the college authorities demanding that proper facilities be put in place. On Sunday, the students staged a sit-in protest at the hostel.
The Government Medical College in Siddipet, which was opened for admissions in 2018, is one of the 10 government medical colleges in the state, with a yearly intake of 150 students. The relatively new college was given Medical Council of India (MCI) approval earlier this year based on satisfactory facilities and standards.
However, the situation on the ground seems to be quite different — the students have been complaining over the sub-standard facilities and the alleged negligence of the officials.
Speaking to TNM, a second-year student, "We are not even given quality food and there is no facility in the hostel. When we ask for proper facilities, they threaten us, asking us to vacate the hostel. This is very unfair since we have already paid a non-refundable amount.”
He further added, "It has become very tough to attend the classes on time, as we don’t even have proper transport facilities. Initially, they had arranged a bus, but now, citing repairs and fund problem, they have stopped it." The hostel is located 3 km away from the academic building.
The students have also alleged that the library does not have enough material required by the students and is not well equipped. The female students have alleged that the college authorities, as well as the principal, are imposing an unwritten curfew specifically for them.
A second-year student, requesting anonymity, said, "Our principal is targeting the students, who raise issues, be it for food or facilities. And if a female student speaks up, they will humiliate us more."
She further added, "They don't let us go out, even if it's for academic purposes. Whatever she principal deems inappropriate for us, we are asked to obey, failing which we are warned of consequences. If we demand facilities, they are making us write a conditional undertaking letter assuring that we will obey hostel rules, which ultimately makes us remain silent even if we don't even have enough facilities."
The hostel caters for over 320 students, including women students and according to students, the food which is being served is not good quality.
On Sunday, fed up with the authorities, the students launched a sit-in protest on campus. While the male students donned face-masks, the women students donned head scarfs to maintain anonymity during the protest. Students told TNM that though the state’s Finance Minister, Harish Rao, had earlier assured them of providing all-round facilities, there has been no change in the situation.
At the protest, the students held up placards with their demands written on them. One of the students told TNM, "We will continue to protest until the college authorities and Minister Harish Rao come here and address our concerns. Till then, we will not move from here."
Earlier in November, Finance Minister Harish Rao, when he visited to oversee the construction works on the campus, had assured the students all the facilities will be provided to meet the needs of medical college.
When TNM contacted the College Principal, Dr Tamilarasi, seeking an explanation over the students’ protests and their allegations, she said, "Since it's a new campus, there are few establishing phase problems, to which there is actually no need of taking up protests. Yes, there is water and electricity problem on the campus but we have applied for mission Bhagiratha water and they have already started the water supply. Steps are being taken up for power supply and we are also ready to change the mess contractor if the students give us a written representation.”
She further added, "We are giving hostel accommodation to almost all students even though MCI guidelines necessitate this only for 60% students. When there is more burden, there will be a few minor problems when it comes to available resources."
However, when asked about restrictions on the students’ movement during day and night, Dr Tamilarasi said that the authorities are implementing hostel curfews for the safety of all the students. She further added, “It's my responsibility to take care of my students. The restrictions are flexible and if the students get us the consent of their parents, we don't have any issues.”
She also told TNM that all the measures are being taken to address the students’ concerns and also said that the students have been advised to call off the protest.