Different associations of teachers and employees at North Bengal University contributed money so that students of one of the university’s 10 hostels can have at least two square meals.
On Tuesday evening, the authorities of one of the 10 hostels, where around 250 boys stay, had served notice, mentioning that their stock of groceries and supplies had finished and thus boarders could not be provided with food. This left the students irate. On Wednesday, they demonstrated at the varsity and didn’t let any of the departments open, bringing to a halt all academic activities.
On Thursday, various associations stepped in and arranged funds out of their own resources to help out the students.
The reason for the ongoing financial impasse at NBU is that the varsity does not have a finance officer who can sign bills and pay those who supply foodgrain and other supplies at the hostels.
NBU has 10 hostels, five each for boys and girls. Around 1,250 students in all stay in these hostels.
The food crisis in one of the 10 hostels has set alarm bells ringing.
“It is appalling that the boarders didn’t get food yesterday (Wednesday) as there is no one to pay the suppliers. We don’t know what the state education department and the varsity authorities are doing in this regard,” said a senior faculty member.
Since January this year, the varsity, which is on the outskirts of Siliguri, has been facing administrative hiccups as Omprakash Mishra, who was deputed as interim vice-chancellor, left after the completion of his tenure.
Again, on February 28, S.N. Saha, the finance officer retired, and Nupur Das, the secretary of the undergraduate council who was deputed temporarily as a registrar, returned to her old post.
Hence, the varsity is currently functioning without a VC, a finance officer and a registrar.
“Because of the absence of the VC and registrar, we are facing problems in administrative and academic fields. However, the finance officer’s retirement has been a major blow as he was the official for payments,” said an official.
With no one replacing Saha so far, payments have come to a halt. As a result, supplies at hostels have stopped, daily-rated employees have not received salaries and even a number of vehicles of the varsity have stopped running as there is nobody to clear the fuel bills.
The NBU Asthayee Shiksha Karmi Association, an association representing daily-rated employees, staged a sit-in for the second day on Thursday on campus, demanding immediate appointments of the VC, finance officer and registrar.
“If there is no change by next Monday, we will go to Calcutta and seek the intervention of Raj Bhavan and state higher education department. If the issue is not resolved, we will launch protests at both locations,” said Amit Kumar, association president.
Sources said some NBU teachers were planning to go to Calcutta next week to draw the attention of the governor and the state government to their plight.