The Backward Classes Minority (BCM) students are complaining about poor food quality and hygiene but officials deny any recent complaints.
The Backward Classes and Minority (BCM) hostels lack basic facilities like clean washrooms, water supply, beds, and good quality food.
Renuka C, a Master’s student staying in the D Devaraj Arasu Backwards Post Graduation hostel near Jnanabharathi said, “Every month when someone comes for inspection we complain to the officials about the issues. Every time they promise to do something about it but things do not change.”
She continued that students are forced to share a small room with eight to 10 people. The toilets are not hygienic and the students do not have access to water supplies 24/7. “We complain to authorities every month about this problem but the condition remains the same, “said Renuka.
The BCM hostels are run by Social Welfare, Backward Classes Welfare, Tribal Welfare, and Minority Welfare Departments. The data from the Social Welfare department website shows the department caters to almost 1.65 lakh minority students. The department maintains 634 post-matric and 1236 pre-matric hostels in Karnataka.
Vaani N, Additional Director of the Social Welfare Department said, “Students are equally responsible to keep the hostel clean. We do our best to provide all the facilities but the students always complain about everything.”
In August 2022, Chief Minister (CM)Basavaraja Bommai sanctioned Rs. 250 crores to improve the condition of backward-class hostels and to provide more facilities. The CM also mentioned that grants have been released to increase the hostel accommodation capacity by 25 percent.
Vaani said, “Our department has not received any additional funds to increase accommodation.”
In a recent incident, students of the BCM Girls Hostel in Rajarajeshwari Nagar complained about the hostel warden and authorities for treating the students badly. The students alleged that they were forced to clean the toilets against their will, even if they were ill.
Meenakshi G, who is currently pursuing her Doctor of Philosophy and used to stay in a BCM hostel till 2019 said, “It was very common for us to clean the washrooms by ourselves. If your room has an attached washroom then you only have to clean the washroom.”
Vaani said, “In this kind of situation, we cannot trust any parties. Sometimes when the warden is strict with students, they create these rumors and anything against the government receives a lot of publicity, but the opposite can also be true.” She continued, the Social Welfare Department has not received any such complaints in recent times.
Siddaraju, a Dalit activist said, “Last year in December, I visited a BCM hostel in Chamarajanagar district and saw students sleeping on the floor in the cold. They do not even have access to hot water. Government promises many things for these poor hostel students but never does anything.”
In the Karnataka state budget 2022-23 the government promised to build 100 “Dr. B.R Ambedkar Hostel” for the Scheduled Caste/ Tribe students.