Four first year students of Delhi University’s Daulat Ram college sustained injuries after a section of the plaster from the ceiling of their classroom fell on them. Students have called for a boycott of all classes till the governing body (GB) starts renovating the dilapidated college building.
The incident led to a blame game, as students, teachers and the principal claimed the “governing body and its chairperson” were “deliberately delaying” the proposals for renovation and repair work of the building, which was constructed in the 1960s.
The governing body, on the other hand, accused the principal of ‘mismanagement’.
Last year, a section of the facade of the western wing collapsed, and has remained unrepaired. The damage is visible in several corridors and classrooms in the college, where the plaster has fallen, exposing the brickwork and beams. Even the ceiling in the office of Principal Savita Rao is damaged.
The first year class was in the middle of a lecture on the Constitution when plaster and concrete from the ceiling started falling on them. “We thought it was an earthquake… our teacher urged us to get out of the classroom, and there was a scramble to get out” said Preeti, one of the students.
While four students have sustained scrapes on their hands, arms and shoulders, the mobile phone of a student was damaged in the incident.
An FIR was lodged at the Maurice Nagar police station by the four students who sustained injuries. Students are also planning to hold a protest outside the college Wednesday.
Earlier this month, students and teachers of the college had organised a protest march against the governing body and its chairperson for “deliberately delaying necessary renovation and upgrading of infrastructure.”
Speaking to The Indian Express, Principal Savita Rao admitted that parts of the building were “severely damaged” and required extensive renovation.
“Each year, when it rains, moisture seeps into the walls because the waterproofing on the roof is damaged. The building committee had put forward a proposal to repair the roof and the ceilings in June 2015, but the governing body chairperson is yet to pass the proposal and clear the funds,” said Rao.
According to sources, a report by engineering consultancy company RITES last year had said that the pillars and beams of the western wing of the college building were not strong enough to take the load. The report had suggested that the building needed to be torn down and newly constructed. An inspection report by the procter of the Delhi University in 2014 had also stated that the building needed extensive repair and renovation.
“We have filed several reports before the governing body and the university, but the chairperson is not allowing any proposal to pass. We have even requested the GB to consider changing the chairperson and the treasurer, as they have been blocking the work for several years,” said Rao.
However, GB chairperson Sunita Sudarshan denied the allegations, and said all proposals for renovation of the college had been cleared in June 2015.
“We had passed the plans for renovation of the building and have even deposited Rs 10 crore with RITES for the work. It is the principal who is blocking all the work, as she has been issued notices by the governing body,” she said.
Sudarshan also denied any charges of negligence by the GB, saying the renovation work “should have been done months ago” by the principal as the funds had been granted.
Sudarshan claimed that due to the allegations against the principal, a letter had been sent to the university administration earlier this year, seeking her removal.
Delhi University officials could not be reached for comment.