Staff Reporter

Fact-finding team blames wardens for plight of students Team blames wardens

CHENNAI: Insufficient food, dirty toilets, absence of electric fixtures and unsympathetic wardens are the lot of students at Adi Dravida hostels in Kancheepuram, said members of a fact-finding team here on Thursday.

Children were often asked to run errands for the wardens, clean up around the hostel, go shopping for provisions, cook and, in one case, purchase alcohol for the warden.

Representatives of Social Action Movement (SAM) and Tamil Nadu Child Rights Protection Network visited 10 hostels between Uthiramerur and Walajahbad blocks last week, following a SAM representative's discovery that students were being made to graze cattle belonging to the warden at one hostel.

Prabhu, project officer, SAM, said that lack of responsibility among wardens was the primary cause for the unhygienic and unfriendly atmosphere in hostels, which was not conducive to study. Most hostels had 10 to 30 students staying there but attendance registers and requisitions for food invariably had 50 students listed, said members of the team. Few electric fixtures were seen, with hardly any tube lights or fans in working condition in the rooms.

Several rooms and toilets were locked and students had to use open spaces as toilets in some cases.

All windows in a women's hostel were barred with an iron seal to prevent students from looking out, noted Kutti Revathy, writer and member of the team. Concern for students' morality was given as the reason for such measures, she said.

Allowances for soap, oil and haircuts were not issued with wardens citing insufficient funds for food. Wardens did not spend the night and were rarely seen during the day at any of the three hostels under their care and children had no adult caretaker at nights.

Of other hostels

The team also recorded its shock at hearing officials from the Adi Dravida Welfare department saying that all hostels in the State faced such conditions.

They have presented a copy of the report to the Minister for Adi Dravidar Welfare who promised to tour Kancheepuram hostels soon.

A report on the state of the Adi Dravida hostels across Tamil Nadu was being prepared.