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Jaundice shuts tech institute

Durgapur, April 28: An outbreak of suspected hepatitis on the campus has forced the National Institute of Technology ' earlier known as Regional Engineering College ' to suspend classes till July 1 and defer all examinations except the final semester.

Till last night, 85 students had fallen ill at the institute. By late evening today, most of the 2,200 students had vacated the hostel.

The move to close the deemed university in this industrial town, about 180 km from Calcutta, followed last night's student violence on the campus. Around 8.30, a group of students went to the quarters of the controller of examinations, I. Basak, to request that the May 2 semester examinations be postponed.

An argument followed and finally turned into a heated exchange. The students started throwing stones at the windows and then ransacked Basak's quarters.

'We stay in most unhygienic conditions in our hostel. The canteen is unhealthy. So it is natural that students have contracted jaundice or hepatitis,' said Uday Jaiswal, a third year mechanical engineering student from Uttar Pradesh, before leaving for home this morning.

'We think the disease is spreading from contaminated water,' said Amitava Bhattacharya, another third year student of the same department.

This morning, a team from the Burdwan Medical College and Hospital and officials from the Durgapur Municipal Corporation reached the hostel. They examined the students and declared the symptoms were similar to that of hepatitis. Blood samples of 45 students were collected. Water samples were also taken from the taps.

The Durgapur Steel Plant, which supplies drinking water to the institute, has been asked by NIT authorities to inspect the pipelines and test the water. The local civic body also supplies water to the college but the DSP meets the major requirement.

'We strongly condemn the hooliganism unleashed by students yesterday. This is not expected from engineering students. Nevertheless, we have postponed the exams. Only the final semester exam will be held from May 19 instead of May 2 and the rest of the exams will start from July 4. The classes will remain closed till July 1,' said a teacher.

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