Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Students in Sikkim Hostels anxious and worried lot

GANGTOK, 21 Sept: As panic spread across the state, anxiety rose high among both, parents and college and school students residing in hostels here. Disrupted phone connectivity making it impossible to communicate and get information of the conditions on either side.
With most buildings damaged, a number of such hostels across the state have been evacuated. The Scheduled Caste Girls’ Hostel of Sikkim Government College, situated at Gairigaon, Tadong has developed numerous cracks mostly on the second and third floor of the building. The hostel has 25 residents, all of whom left the hostel yesterday to stay with their local guardians.

Sikkim University’s Cauveri Girls’ hostel at Tadong, also bears a number of cracks on the lower floors which has scared the students into spending the nights at the mess hall, TV room and study room located on the floor at the road level.
A day after the earthquake hit the state, some students have shifted back to their rooms while others are still too scared to return.
“We are still scared and not ready to go back to our rooms,” said Anupriya, a 1st year Psychology student at SU, preferring to sit outside, in the open, in front of the hostel along with other girls.
The hostel has 91 residents, with quite a sizeable number of them from outside the state. Students from Bhutan, Nagaland, Assam, West Bengal also reside at the hostel. Most students managed to get in touch with their parents, only a day after the earthquake when telecom connectivity resumed.
The Sikkim University boys’ hostel located near Smile Land, Marchak, which houses around 60 students, has also suffered some severe damages.
Shakti Dutraj, a student at the university suffered a head injury while he was trying to escape as bricks started falling off the walls. Some students were at the Internet Cafe located on the top floor where two walls collapsed injuring another student. Around, four students of the hostel were injured in the earthquake.
Debrajhya Mukerjee, a hosteller, informed that after the quake, the boys left the hostel and took shelter at the Sikkim Science Centre at Marchak for the night. The next day, they came to the girls hostel at Tadong from where they have been shifted to a building near the girls’ hostel from today.
Sikkim University Vice Chancellor, Prof. Mahendra P Lama, met the students in this evening to reassure the students and said that they will be shifted back to the hostel when the University feels it is safe to do so.
The mid-term examinations scheduled to begin from 26 Sept will take place as planned, he informed
Meanwhile in West Sikkim, the ground floor of Soreng Secondary School’s girls’ hostel has been completely damaged and all 40 girl students have been evacuated and shifted to a temporary tin shed at the school’s premises.
The hostel used to provide free accommodation for these girls mostly from remote villages who now cannot return to their homes as walking to school everyday is not possible.
Here in the capital’s Tashi Namgyal Academy, it was prep time for the hostellers when the quake hit. Girl students were in the classrooms at one of the school buildings when they felt the tremors. According to the hostel matron, some of the seniors, having seen videos of the earthquake in Japan, instructed the juniors to hide under the tables. A make-shift shelter at the basketball court is where they spent the night.
“Although I couldn’t get in touch with my family in Dzongu immediately, my uncle here called to see if I was fine and also informed me that my family was fine,” said girls hostel captain, Marmit Lepcha.
A man from Lachen visited the school to enquire about students from the village since there was no communication, informed the hostel matron.
The hostel at Taktse International School here managed to post facebook updates on the night of the earthquake itself reassuring anxious parents and guardians that wards at the hostel were safe and well attended to. Most schools could not do so and the lack of communication was worrying for all concerned.
It has been a nerve-wracking experience for students coming from remote parts of the state and outside the state as most of them could get in touch with their families only a day after the 6.8 magnitude quake hit the state. As damages are being assessed, the question that is emerging is till when will such temporary arrangements hold fort and a permanent solution found.

(TSHERING EDEN for Now Daily)

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