Friday, July 16, 2010
"We prefer to starve than eat mess food", say inmates of Govt. Boys Hostel
The Government Boys Hostel in Nazarbad, despite being located in the heart of the city, is as pathetic any other such hostel in a remote rural region.
The hostel was started by the then Maharaja of Mysore with the noble intention of providing accommodation to the children of rural regions who come to the city to pursue education.
However, in the present condition, students are facing a harrowing experience due to unhygienic food and lack of basic facilities. The mess at the hostel, which comes under the Social Welfare Department, is literally in a messy state.
About 258 students, mostly belonging to middle class and poor families, hailing from villages in and around Mysore, are facing severe hardship at the hostel.
On learning about the problem, Mayor Sandesh Swamy, along with Health Officer Dr. T.S. Nagaraj, JD(S) leader Praveen Kumar and Corporation Zone-7 Assistant Engineer Somashekarappa inspected the hostel yesterday morning. The Mayor was surprised to see the staff serving rice very limitedly and a watery curry to the students.
On inspection by the officials, corruption was found to be rampant in the hostel. Food items were allegedly misappropriated by the mess authorities.
For a hostel with 258 student strength, the amount of milk purchased daily was a mere of 5 litres, and the diluted milk is served for the children.
This is what the students had to say about the food served in the hostel mess: "The sambar, a regular feature on the mess menu, will hardly have any vegetables. Whatever the vegetables purchased, they are either rotten or cheaply bought discarded ones."
Even the rice and pulses are half-cooked — causing gastro-problems to many. Left-over sambar is mixed with rice the next day and served as Bisibelebath!
All the groceries purchased for the mess out of government funds are clandestinely sold to nearby shops. Some items get pilfered too. "We have seen bags of groceries (especially rice, flour, cooking oil, condiments etc.) being sneaked out at frequent intervals," confided some neighbours.
• It is alleged that the staff prepare special dishes for themselves and feast at a time when the students are in school.
• Though students are allowed to watch TV with no extra cost, it is said that the staff play movie CDs and collect Rs. 3 per student.
• Though the government has supplied 10 books per student, many have received only 4 to 5 books.
• There are 12-15 members in a single room and they are given worn-out carpet without bedspreads to sleep on. Uniforms, soap and other toilet items are not yet issued to some students.
• Most of the toilets are out of order and lack basic health requirements. There are short-ages in the number of cleaning workers.
When SOM tried to contact the Hostel Warden Savithri over phone, she was not available.
What the students say:
Some of the students told the following to SOM:
"Almost all the dishes are prepared without adding cooking oil, are uncooked and taste bland. We prefer to starve than go through the ordeal of chewing on the raw food. Even though it is mandatory that eggs should be provided on all Fridays and special dishes served on Sundays, it is never done."
"The Menu Board displaying the list of dishes to be served to the hostel inmates is a mere formality. However, enough funds are drawn from the hostel’s mess account for the same."
If any student questions, the warden shouts using abusive language and some times they beat us also asking, "Yeno? Ninna appa tandu kottidara?"
"Many of our room-mates complain of stomach problems because of the half-boiled rice served. We have been quite used to getting stomach problems because of food. We cannot stop eating at the hostels because we are compelled to eat whatever is offered by the mess. We have no option at all."
After inspecting the hostel and hearing the complaints from the children, Mayor Sandesh Swamy assured of speaking to the Warden and solve the problem within a week.
"If the problem persists, I will take the matter to the department concerned," he said and also assured of visiting all the government hostels in the city in the days to come and take strict action if found guilty.
He instructed the Health Officer to make regular health check-up for children and to keep a vigil on the hostel activities and also instructed the City Corporation officials to provide sports items for children immediately.
Health Officer speaks
"First I will call the warden and question her. Then I will bring the matter to the notice of the Social Welfare Department. I will ensure that all basic facilities for the students are provided," said Health Officer Nagaraj.
Published on SOM dated 13, July 2010