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Hostel students cry foul as water heaters gather rust

Faulty planning puts ambitious government scheme in cold storage.

Written by Dipti Sonawala | Mumbai | Published: September 25, 2012 3:07:58 am

Faulty planning puts ambitious government scheme in cold storage.

Poor planning seems to have failed an ambitious Rs 11.26-crore government project to provide solar water heaters to hostels for backward meritorious students in the state. Seven of the 270 hostels that were to benefit are in Mumbai — three in Worli and one each in Jogeshwari,Kandivali,Chembur and Mulund.

The social welfare and justice department had sanctioned the project in 2011. Water heaters were procured,but are lying unused on hostel terraces awaiting installation.

With no solar heaters and no information forthcoming from hostel authorities,students are compelled to employ unsafe means,such as electric iron rods,to heat water.

“In the absence of water heaters,we face a lot of difficulty. We have to make arrangements of our own during monsoons and winters,” said an inmate.

Students at Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Boys Hostel and Sant Mirabai Girls Hostel in Worli tried to get information from the social welfare and justice department about the heaters,but without success.

Finally,they sought help from ex-hostel inmate and lawyer Manoj Tekade.

“I filed an RTI query in April 2012 and the social welfare and justice department replied in July that heaters have already been installed in a few hostels and will be installed in other hostels soon,” he said.

But students and Tekade claim that is not the case. “The water heaters are lying unused on the terraces of some hostels and other hostels are yet to get heaters. I have now filed an appeal. Students are already suffering since many other basic amenities in these hostels are very poor,” said Tekade said.

“An official at the social welfare and justice department told us hostel buildings are not strong enough to take the load of these heaters and that is why installation has not happened,” said another student.

Pramod Jadhav,Assistant Commissioner in the department said,“These hostel buildings are old,especially the ones in Worli. We have sought a report of the structural engineer from Public Works Department for installation of water heaters. We are concerned about safety of students. Once we receive the report of the structural engineer,we will install the water heaters.”

Tekade said this reflected poor planning. “They should have sought the structural engineer’s report before purchasing the water heaters. Many heaters are lying on hostel terraces for more than a year and are beyond repair. Glasses of their solar panels are broken and some parts rusted,” he said.

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