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Space crunch prunes IIT list

Kharagpur, Sept. 14: When President Pranab Mukherjee speaks at the IIT Kharagpur convocation tomorrow, not too many guests will be able to listen to him.

The venue of the 58th convocation at India’s first IIT has been moved to a hall in the institution that holds 1,000 people from the 10,000-capacity open-air theatre, which is being renovated. The move has caused resentment among students, guardians and staff. The President will address the event at the Netaji auditorium.

Guardians and non-teaching staff have been left out of the guest list for want of space.

At last year’s convocation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had addressed a gathering of 8,000 at the open-air theatre.

“We can make arrangements to accommodate 1,000 people in the Netaji auditorium. Nearly 1,200 students will be awarded degrees. They will have to make do with only 800 chairs,” IIT Kharagpur registrar T.K. Ghosal said.

According to Ghosal, 100 seats will be reserved for the President, three Union ministers and administrative and security staff. Hundred more seats will be reserved for those who will be conferred DLit degrees and research awards, and media representatives.

“We regret that for the first time we will not be able to make arrangements for the electronic media at the convocation venue. They will have to sit in two small auditoriums, where we will put up giant screens. But we will provide them live feed of the event,” Goshal said.

B.K. Mathur, the dean of planning and information who has been entrusted with the job of conducting the convocation, said 20 media representatives, including photographers, would be allowed inside the Netaji auditorium.

The guardian of a student who will receive his BTech degree tomorrow said: “I have come all the way from Punjab to attend the convocation. It is frustrating that I won’t be allowed to attend the convocation.”

A laboratory assistant in the geology and geo-physics department also expressed disappointment. “We wait for this day the whole year as many respected and successful people address the convocation. This year, the first Bengali President will address the event. But we have not been invited to the programme,” he said.

Around 40 teachers will be on the dais. Sixty teachers will have to share space with those getting DLit degrees and the print media. The remaining 300 teachers will not be in the auditorium as they have been given responsibilities such as transportation of dignitaries, reception of guests, and arranging for food.