Guwahati: There is fear in the entire campus of the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IITG) since Friday afternoon as the Kamrup district administration (rural) has “hurriedly” converted both the guest houses of the institution as COVID-19 quarantine centres. Residents have alleged that proper sanitization was not carried out in the area. They claim that the move has put lives of over 3,500 people, including senior citizens, children and students, especially those from foreign countries in danger.
The residents allege that no sanitization process was followed before allowing COVID-19 positive patients into the guest houses since Friday. The residents of IITG have expressed anguish over how some of the faculty members were allegedly booted out of Lohit Hostel by the security forces.
“One lady faculty still has not got a room and staying at a colleagues place. Nowhere in the world the administration is so spineless to boot out its own employees. The order from Assam government was never questioned or debated by the authorities concerned in the IITG for reasons best known to them,” some of the residents of the IITG campus regretted on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, when contacted, PS Robi, deputy director, IITG told the EastMojo that there is no fear among the residents right now. “See, this came to us in a very short notice, maybe within two or two and half hours. We are cooperating with the district administration. There is some protocol to follow. Since we are experiencing it for the first time, such fear is very natural, initially. However, now, no such fear is there among the residents as far as my knowledge is concerned,” Robi said.
Regarding allegations like not maintaining proper sanitization process in the area, Robi, who is in charge of the institution as director of the institution has reportedly moved to Banglarore even before the start of the first phase of the lockdown, said that once the campus has been taken over by the state government, each and every protocol will be maintained properly.
Expressing serious concern over the decision of the Kamrup district administration (rural) the residents of IIT Guwahati campus said that the fully residential campus, where students had vacated most of the hostels in March, still has all other residents, including faculty, staff, international students, research scholars and some senior students.
“We were surprised by the sudden arrival of the first batch of 19 people, on Friday evening, 15 minutes after an email was sent by our institute authority informing about this. Our campus currently houses more than 3,500 people, including lots of senior citizens, children of all age and also patients with terminal illness like cancer. We have not been able to sleep since we heard the news, because we do not have any other place to go, or take our family,” said another resident to EastMojo.
The office of the DC, Kamrup (rural), Amingaon, District Disaster Management Authority vide order (No. K/DDMA/CORONA VIRUS/02/2020/PT/243, dated: May 15, 2020) said that in view of the increasing number of positive COVID-19 cases in the last few days and also the large inflow of the persons to their respective home states, including Assam, a large number of quarantine spaces are needed for accommodating them.
“In pursuance of the instructions in section 30 clauses xxiv of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and Notification No. 40-3/2020-DM-I(A) of MHA, dated 15/04/2020, issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt of India and in order to take up all necessary measures for combating the spread of COVID-19 and considering the pandemic nature of the COVID-19, I Sri Kamal Kumar Baishya, ACS, District Magistrate, Kamrup hereby promulgate the order for requisition of both the guesthouses located in IIT Guwahati campus, with immediate effect. Henceforth both the guest house complexes will be under the direct control and authority of the district administration Kamrup with immediate effect and until further order,” the order stated.
The two guest house buildings that have been currently chosen as quarantine centres were being used by faculty members who had just joined the institution along with their families. These two buildings are adjacent to the institute hospital, which is the only medical facility and dispensary for the residents.
The residents of the campus have restricted movement outside the campus, and also imposed a ban on entry of domestic help and other services since March. The academic session in the institute is underway and offices are open, forcing people out of their homes. Since there is no proper online delivery system in the campus, the residents, including senior citizens and other physically vulnerable people have to go out of the campus to get grocery items, medicines, and other essentials.
Assuring the state government of their full support in its battle against the COVID-19, the residents of the IITG campus have termed the Kamrup (rural) district administration move as unscientific, unplanned and demanded the authorities concerned to shift the facilities to other safer places.
“Instead of setting up the quarantine facilities at such a vulnerable place like inside the IITG campus, why the authorities concerned have failed to set up such camps at the nearby place like the Rajiv Gandhi Sports Complex at Amingaon,” a resident said, adding: We were already fighting against the fear of the disease, and now, we have to worry about the entry of quarantined outsiders.
“We are unprepared for such a situation. Our staff and security do not have any training or equipment to deal with this new situation. We request the state government not to convert the residential area into a COVID-19 quarantine zones,” another resident appealed.