The Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) on Saturday condemned the “non-cooperative" attitude of the JNU administration in starting a COVID care facility on the campus. In a statement, signed by JNUTA president Milap C Sharma and secretary Moushumi Basu, it asked the university authorities to not stand on “rigidities" and be flexible to demands that are being made by residents.
The teachers’ association said it would indeed be “criminal" to keep physical facilities locked up and not made available for use by residents in need. “JNUTA strongly condemns the non-cooperative attitude of the JNU administration in responding to the suggestions made for opening of COVID management facilities within the campus, as per the guidelines for Gated Residential Complexes desirous of setting up small COVID care facility issued by the Delhi government on 18 April 2021," it said.
The association said from the medical information made available by the government, it is also imperative to create facilities for oxygen concentrators on campus to aid any person in a state of acute distress till a hospital bed can be made available. “The rigid and almost negligent attitude of the university administration, we fear could end up having grave consequences for JNU as a whole. To avoid this, JNUTA would once again like to plead with the university authorities to not stand on rigidities and be flexible to demands that are being made by residents. It would indeed be criminal to keep physical facilities locked up and not made available for use by residents in need," the JNUTA said.
The JNUTA has also made the suggestion of using guest houses located on campus, namely the Aravali, which has been unused since April 2020, the HDRC and the JNIAS facilities for residents to isolate themselves in a letter to the assistant district magistrate New Delhi on Friday. Based on the request made by the JNUTA, a team headed by the sub-divisional magistrate visited the campus on Friday afternoon to inspect the guest house facilities that had been suggested for use as quarantine centres.
“While the suggested guest house facilities were found to be adequate, the lack of any positive commitment made by the university administration to shoulder the responsibility did not yield the desired breakthrough. JNUTA has thus been informed by the district authorities that the setting up of COVID management centres within the campus would not be possible unless the university administration cooperates," JNUTA added. The guidelines issued by the Delhi government provide a comprehensive instruction manual for setting up of such facilities by resident welfare associations, the teachers’ body said, adding that unlike RWAs which are starting from scratch from procuring beds and other facilities, in JNU, they have fully furnished rooms with attached bathrooms that may be used for this purpose.
“If RWAs across the city can take up the challenge, why not JNU?" the teachers questioned. “Other institutions like IIT-Delhi have created such facilities that are up and running, which have helped ease the burden on campus residents. The JNU administration should also brace up for the challenge and immediately agree to dedicate guest houses and vacant residences for quarantine/ isolation," they added.
The JNUTA also urged administration to include experienced faculty from the field of social medicine in the COVID response team. It said epidemiologists across the country, including JNU faculty at the Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health, have repeatedly flagged the deeply disturbing connection between the high incidence of cases in various locations in India and inadequate administrative response with regards to health infrastructure.
“JNU is no exception and in the last two weeks there has been a stark increase in cases, which has caused panic and stress among residents. The problems faced by many faculty members and administrative staff living in cramped housing on campus of effectively isolating afflicted family members, is a serious one. Ramping up of testing and creating quarantine facilities for asymptomatic persons and mild cases on campus constitutes another important concern, the teachers’ body said. Delhi has been reporting a record number of cases and deaths since the last few days with hospitals struggling to manage the patient load.