One washing machine for 500 hostellers, Panjab University pilots thrift

A pilot project in which the varsity introduced one washing machine each in two hostels with a combined strength of over 1,000 has begun to falter even before it was launched.

It’s not easy to wash the dirty linen, especially of Panjab University (PU) hostellers. A pilot project in which the varsity introduced one washing machine each in two hostels with a combined strength of over 1,000 has begun to falter even before it was launched.

Giving in to the long-pending demand of PU hostellers to provide them the facility of automatic washing machines, the PU administration installed two washing machines on a trial basis in Hostel 4 and 5, both for men, on February 1.

A week later, the hostellers are up in arms. The washing machine may not have led to cleaner clothes but it has certainly caused frayed tempers. Quite thrilled at the idea of not having to wash clothes with their hands in this chilling cold, the boys took to the two machines like fish to water. A hostel employee said on Day 1, the washing machine was used 24×7.

The mid-sized machine, which can at best wash the clothes of one person, takes at least half an hour for its shortest washing cycle. “At this rate, it can serve only 48 students if it is used day and night, which is not possible,” griped a student.

Paramvir Singh of Hostel 4 said, “We appreciate the efforts of the administration but there are more than 500 students in our hostel and installing just one washing machine is akin to mocking us. Even a pilot with a lone machine is bound to fail.”

Agreeing with him, Jagdish Banga, who lives in Hostel 5, said, “There are around 300 rooms in our hostel with two students each per room. A single washing machine is a cruel joke. It is winter and we need more than one cycle to wash our clothes for a week.”

No one knows this better than Vishesh Puria, an MCA student who stays in Hostel No 5. “We have five blocks here with three floors each and only one washing machine has been allotted for all the students. One machine, even as a trial, makes no sense.”

Saying that washing machines are not a very costly affair, he demanded that the authorities install at least one machine per floor as part of their pilot project. “Or else, we will have to queue up for hours, and this will lead to verbal spats because no one enjoys a long wait,” said his friend. He claimed that the girls’ hostels have four washing machines each.

Just a week after its installation, the machine has already been put under lock and key due to overuse by students. A hostel employee said on Day 1, students used it round the clock. “Now we have specified time slots and they can use it only during those hours.”

Quite understandably, Vishesh and friends are not happy with this rationing of the washing machine’s use. “We will complain about this and see what happens,” Vishesh told Newsline.

Meanwhile, Dean, Students Welfare, Emmanuel Nahar, said he was merely accepting a demand put forward by the students council last year. “They agreed that we should first run these machines on a trial basis.”

He added, “Usually, students are careless and don’t handle machinery responsibly. We will study their response and then install more machines.”

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