After months of protests in mould-ridden and cramped rooms and under leaky roofs, the inmates of the Government Scheduled Tribes Post Metric Hostel have finally been given their due.

The hostel received attention after its 62 hostellers – most from outside the district who study in degree colleges in the city – staged numerous sit-in protests demanding better facilities. After having stayed in the hostel for nearly a year, the students had had enough.

And, earlier this month, the students were shifted from their musty premises at Ujjodi to a modern building at Pumpwell Circle. The biggest change for them, however, is the sanitation facilities there: for, the number of toilets has increased from four to 24. “Everything is clean, there is a lot of space, and because we have one toilet per room, we have a lot more time in the morning,” said Lingaraju M., from Bellary who is doing his masters in social work.

In Ujjodi, students complained that studying for examinations was difficult as the roof leaked, there were few lights in the room, and the noises from the highway and the nearby garage reverberated in the hostel.

Now, with rooms having study tables, being spacious, and with natural light filtering in through big windows, Abhishek N., from Udupi who is doing his diploma in chemical engineering, is a happy man. “It is much better than before. We can actually study in peace,” he said.

Rude food

What remains constant is the food. “The food is not given according to the menu published, and is unpalatable most times,” said a student.

Hostel warden B. Vijayalakshmi attributed it to the low budget given for the food. “We get Rs. 976 per student per month. The gas rates have been hiked and grains cost us more. We need Rs. 1,200 per month,” she said.

Own building

However, this change comes at a cost for the Integrated Tribal Development Project. From Rs. 57,000 per month rent for the Ujjodi hostel, the rent has shot up to more than Rs. 1 lakh.

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