A chunk of concrete came off the ceiling at a hostel on the IIEST campus early on Monday, crashing on the laptop and mobile phone of a third-year student of civil engineering and missing his head by a whisker, said an official of the Shibpur institute.
The student was sitting on a table and could have been grievously injured had he not gone to fetch something barely seconds before the chunk came crashing, said boarders in hostel No. 11, where the incident happened around 12.30am.
“The table and floor of room number 408 were littered with broken pieces of concrete,” said a third-year student.
Over 100 students at the hostel rushed to the IIEST director’s bungalow on the campus in the dead of the night to air their grievances. Repairs started on Monday afternoon, prompting students to wonder why they had not been undertaken before.
“The accident happened in room number 408 but the infrastructure of all rooms of the hostel is poor. We told our hostel superintendent about this. The superintendent wrote to authorities concerned about the need for intervention. But nothing was done,” said a third-year student.
Documents revealed that the hostel warden, Asish Kumar Bera, wrote to the university’s engineers about the need for repairs in several rooms of hostel number 11.
In a letter on August 18, the superintendent wrote: “I would like to inform you that verandah ceiling adjacent to room No. 311 of hostel number 11 is falling from time to time.
At the same time, the other floor verandah ceilings of all the floors are also showing cracks. Due to that, the boarders of hostel No. 11 are facing problems in each corner of the floors and any time any accident may happen….”
A letter written by him on July 29 reads: “Please arrange to repair some civil works in hostel No. 11. Broken verandah cornice of the second and third floor. Water leaking from rooftop…. Rooftop needs new carpet.”
In July last year, Bera had written to the IIEST authorities that the “tar felting” on the roof of some rooms in the hostel be replaced to prevent water seepage.
When The Telegraph contacted Bera about Monday’s accident and the letters he wrote, he declined to comment. Repeated calls and text messages to IIEST director Parthasarathi Chakrabarti went unanswered.
The institute’s chief warden, Sudipta Mukhopadhyay, said in a text message: “The institute authorities were informed and action was taken by the engineering section on an urgent basis.”
In a memorandum that a group of former students submitted to the director last week about the IIEST’s fall in national ranking, it was highlighted that the chief warden did not get “the hostels repaired during COVID when the hostels were empty and we see the name of IIEST in the press for all the wrong reasons”.
“What happened early on Monday was waiting to happen. It can happen anytime at our hostel, too,” said a student who stays at an adjacent hostel.
The third-year students arrived on the campus on July 24 after the institute decided to resume in-person classes after a gap of more than two years following a dip in Covid cases. Hostel woes are often reported from the IIEST campus.
In mid-April, the institute had told second-year students that they would be accommodated in makeshift hostels lacking network-dining-drinking water facilities as the actual hostels could not be repaired.