Sreshtha was in his rented flat at Vijay Nagar when he heard a rally pass by in the evening. He heard the crowd shouting slogans against the scarcity of hostels and unregulated room rent in Delhi University (DU), and saw a poster which read ‘luggage march’. Immediately, he packed all the clothes in his reach, stuffed them into a trolley bag and ran down to join the march.
“I have changed six accommodations in the last one year, because of high rent. I study in Rajdhani College (Raja Garden), yet I have to stay in North Campus because staying near college is not an option for me given the exorbitant prices. I have to travel 45 minutes every day to college because of where I stay but at least I can afford this,” said Sreshtha, a second year student of Political Science from Jharkhand.
He, like several others, joined the luggage march organised by the All India Students’ Association (AISA) on Saturday as part of their ‘A Room of My Own’ campaign. Carrying their luggage, beddings and utensils as a mark of protest, against the “skyrocketing rates of PGs and scarcity of hostels in DU”, the students marched through various student localities including Vijay Nagar, Gurmandi, Malkaganj and Kamla Nagar. DU currently offers 4,000 hostel seats for more than 80,000 undergraduate hostel aspirants.
Kawalpreet Kaur, AISA DU Vice President said, “We met several students who had earlier enrolled in outer campus colleges and due to lack of hostels had to live in expensive PGs. To cover their expenses they had to do part time jobs which forced them to fail and drop out of their courses.”
Vishnu, a student of Kirori Mal College who joined the march, also had a similar story to narrate. “When people in other universities can get hostels, then why should we be deprived of them? I am staying with two other roommates in a one BHK flat, and yet my monthly costs cross Rs 10,000. How our students expected to pay so much?” he said.
As part of its campaign, AISA had earlier got hundreds of students to fill postcards addressed to DU vice-chancellor Yogesh Tyagi listing out their problems and experiences, which will be submitted to him on August 9.
AISA has demanded that DU must “immediately start the construction of new hostels to ensure seats to all who need it,” and provide House Rent Allowance (HRA) to students living in rented accommodations till the time the hostels are constructed. They have also demanded that the government must implement Room Rent Control for private student accommodations.
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