Published: 30th December 2020
Cockroaches and traces of hair in mess food, never-ending quarantine: IIT-M students' gripes continue after COVID spurt contained
Several students at IIT Madras have alleged that the food being served to them is not of adequate quality, while some have even gone on to say that they found insects in the packed food
A few students at IIT Madras have alleged that they have been served packed food on campus that isn't just unsavoury but has insects in it. While the authenticity of the pictures shared by students cannot be independently verified, several students have told us that they have had similar experiences with regard to the food bring served.
It may be recalled that IIT Madras had to completely shut down its institute on December 14 after a sudden spurt in COVID-19 cases, affecting over 190 people inside the campus in a matter of weeks. Students who were present on campus have been quarantined since then, some for over 15 days, while some have even been locked inside for more than 30 days. However, they have alleged that the administration has not clearly told them when the quarantine will be over. They have also alleged that the food being served at the hostels is not of adequate quality.
Earlier, students had already alleged that the institute's decision to run a single mess was the root cause of the rise in COVID-19 cases. Now, they have alleged that the food quality has degraded to the extent that students found caterpillars, cockroaches and traces of human hair in their food. "Even after continuous complaints to the administration, the food quality has not improved in the past few weeks. We have received rotten eggs, spiders in our curry and things we can't imagine in the food," alleged Alankrita Singh, who is a predoctoral fellow at IIT Madras, who is staying at the Sabarmati Hostel at IIT Madras.
Adding to that, another student said, "There have been numerous complaints about the food quality but until yesterday nothing has been done to make it better. The administration had told us that the caterers will be changed from the next month. We are still getting packed food from a single mess which is sometimes unhealthy, insufficient and not up to basic standards. Being in quarantine for so long and getting insects and worms in the food is quite horrifying, to say the least," the student alleged.
Several students told Edex that they have been sending emails to the authorities for a response regarding when the quarantine will be lifted, but the institute has only mentioned that the advice related to quarantine will be given by the Chief Minister's Office in consultation with the Greater Chennai Corporation. The last email that the students said they received from the institute, was three days ago. "Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) completed the repeat screening yesterday. The results are awaited, based on which advice related to quarantine will be given by CMO in consultation with GCC. The dining facilities are being made ready in multiple dining halls. The mapping of hostel students to dining halls using smart cards is in process and it will be ready within 2-3 days. Until that time, the packed food will be provided. We request your kind cooperation in this matter. Any inconvenience is deeply regretted," the email from the institute stated.
A PhD scholar, who wanted to remain anonymous told us, "The students have been in quarantine for the last 19 days and 98 per cent of us tested negative twice. Still, the authorities are keeping the students locked in their rooms despite plenty of emails about various concerns from students. But the administration is blaming everything upon the Chennai Corporation. Whenever we try to communicate with the hostel management, they have only told us that the Chennai Corporation has to approve that it is safe for us to move out of the hostels. We are clueless about the situation and the fact that why there is a delay when most of us tested negative and have already served the stipulated 14-day quarantine period."
Alankrita also said that she and her batchmates were tested twice and they have been in quarantine for the past 17 days. "I tested negative both the times and my entire hostel tested negative too. We are not understanding the logic behind the never-ending quarantine as we have all tested negative not once, but twice. We do not know if the decision is that of IIT Madras or if the GCC has all the say in this matter," she added.
A PhD student pursuing Chemistry, who wanted to remain anonymous told us, "Few of the hostels have zero positive cases now and the quarantine was over on December 27 for a lot of us. We tested negative twice but whenever we are enquiring about this, the administration has responded stating that the Chennai Corporation has not let them remove the quarantine norms. Some students even have been quarantined for the past 30 days as they came to campus on November 28. It has been quite distressing for us, not knowing when we will be able to get out of the hostels."
Another PhD student, pursuing Mechanical Engineering, who tested positive on December 14 was then sent to the IITM Institute Hospital. He was discharged on December 19 and was asked to quarantine for 14 days. "There was however some confusion with the number of quarantine days, in my discharge sheet it said 14 but in a few others, it was stated as seven. Before being discharged, I had tested negative on December 18. I was in quarantine earlier even before I was tested for COVID. All students who were positive then received treatment and returned were shifted to the Bhadra Hostel, both boys and girls. This has been an issue as the washrooms are common in the hostel," he told us.
We have sent an email to the institute and are awaiting their response to this issue. Once we receive the response, this copy will be updated.