JNU vice-chancellor rejects plea to set up Covid care unit on campus
The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) vice-chancellor has not agreed to a request from teachers to set up a Covid care centre and an isolation facility on the campus, sparking allegations of insensitivity.
Around 600 faculty members live on the campus with their families. Besides, there are students in hostels and non-faculty members. More than 100 campus residents have contracted the virus during the second wave so far, according to sources. New Delhi is by far the worst affected city in the country and is reeling from an acute hospital bed and oxygen crisis.
The JNU Teachers Association had proposed that the guest houses and parts of hostel buildings on the campus be converted into Covid care and isolation centres. However, vice-chancellor Prof. M. Jagadesh Kumar did not agree to the suggestion and accused the teachers’ organisation of spreading panic, according to JNUTA members.
The Telegraph sent an email to VC Kumar asking about his alleged refusal to set up a Covid care centre, but received no response.
JNUTA secretary Prof. Moushumi Basu said a senior professor on Tuesday needed oxygen support but the small health centre on the campus only had about 10 minutes of oxygen reserve. The professor had to be shifted to a hospital outside.
“Our proposal is that once a Covid care centre is set up, several hospitals will come forward to help. Covid patients on the campus can be provided treatment here only. Now we are dependent on outside hospitals. Getting a bed is so difficult,” Basu said.
The Delhi government has asked residents’ welfare associations to set up Covid care centres in apartments. The JNUTA, as a representative body of residents of the university, had proposed to the Delhi government the possibility of setting up Covid care facilities on the campus. However, the approval of the VC is required and he has not agreed, the JNUTA said.
“It is insensitive on the part of the VC to sit silently while people are suffering. IIT Delhi has created its own Covid care centre already. Delhi University has announced that it will start a facility with help from an outside agency. But here, the health centre has no infrastructure to treat Covid cases,” Basu said.
IIT Delhi last week appointed a Covid care team comprising doctors who are family members of faculty and non-faculty employees. The team of 30 doctors provides telephone consultation to campus residents. The IIT has also converted a guest house into an isolation centre.
Deen Dayal Upadhyaya College under Delhi University on Tuesday started an isolation centre.
A senior official said the DU was willing to hand over its sports stadium and a guest house to any government agency to set up a Covid care centre for its staff.
Rajesh Jha, former Executive Council member of the DU, said teachers had last year written to the authorities to start a Covid care facility with beds and oxygen support, but nothing was done. He said 17 faculty members had died of Covid in the last month.