Plan to revamp student hostels ready

Plan to revamp student hostels ready

Karnataka runs 3,098 social welfare hostels for 1.51 lakh SC/ST students.

In an ambitious clean-up act, the state government is moving to introduce sweeping changes to root out corruption in the way student hostels are run.

A key intervention will be to put in place a real-time, IT-enabled supply chain and inventory management system to plug public funds worth crores of rupees that get leaked during procurement of supplies for, and upkeep of, hostels.

“This will be the single biggest intervention,” former additional chief secretary Renuka Chidambaram, who headed a committee to revamp student hostels, told DH. The committee has submitted its report to the government and has come out with a standard operating procedure to govern all aspects of hostel management.

Karnataka runs 3,098 social welfare hostels for 1.51 lakh SC/ST students. Authorities, however, have faced flak for the poor condition and management of these hostels.

“About 95% of all the hostel work involves procurement of furniture, kitchen supplies, bedding and so on. So, perceptibly, this is the biggest problem area. The approach is to rely less on human intervention and put in place a software-driven IT system,” she explained.

Hostels procure supplies indiscriminately, paving way for pilferage. “Requirement of every hostel will be studied based on which wardens must raise demand for supplies on an IT system. The system itself will cut off any attempt to procure more than the required quantity,” she explained.

She said, “Also, there will be a fixed timeline, which means one can’t get supplies whenever one feels like.”

The new system will be such that senior officials will be able to monitor, on a virtual dashboard in real-time, the supplies being procured by hostels all over the state.

Also, the committee has suggested a district maintenance crew comprising plumbers, electricians, technicians and so on to attend to complaints at hostels. This, too, will be linked to an IT system. Complaints will need to be resolved within two working days. The panel reached out to NLSIU, Kendriya Vidyalaya, Alva’s, Ramakrishna Mission and other institutions for best practices. 

Social Welfare Minister Priyank Kharge, who is reviewing the report, said he may have to resign given the nature of revamp involved. “We will be stepping on many toes. A lot of people will lose income. Some will come on the road,” he said. “We will divide this into phases because this is too comprehensive to be implemented in one go. We will start from the next academic year,” he said.