The college building is adjacent to the hostel complex, and both have narrow staircases and inadequate fire safety measures.
The smoke from the chimney of the ground-floor canteen enters classrooms, fire safety devices on all four floors don't work, and the walls are gradually chipping away - these are scenes from the premier School of Planning and Architecture (SPA) in central Delhi, thrown into focus after a fire at its hostel on October 26. Monday was the fifth day of protests by 1,200 students, who have been demanding better facilities at the hostel as well as the institute.
With pamphlets and posters declaring "no safety, no occupancy" and "dhoka dhamki na dhikkar, chahiye humein apna adhikar", students have stopped attending classes or sleeping in the girls' hostel - instead opting to spend their nights inside the college premises.
[SPA] started as the Department of Architecture of Delhi Polytechnic. It was later affiliated to the University of Delhi and integrated with the School of Town and Country Planning, which was established in 1955 by the central government to provide facilities for rural, urban and regional planning.
On integration, the school was renamed as School of Planning and Architecture in 1959. Ever since a room in the hostel caught fire, the 200 girls living there have refused to go back. Some of them have been living in the studio at the college building, laying out mattresses and keeping the tables and chairs aside. "We just have permission till today to sleep in the studio. We don't know what we are going to do. The administration is acting very slowly in getting us relocated," said a first-year student, who hails from Kerala.
The old college campus near Feroz Shah Kotla also lies in a dilapidated state, looking considerably worse than the new administrative block, where students have been protesting. The institute has increased its intake but facilities have remained the same, officials who did not wish to be named admitted. The Dean, Project and Campus Development, V K Paul could not be reached for a comment.
However, an official, on condition of anonymity, said, "Inspections are being done and we are looking into the students' demands. College officials are in touch with Central Public Works Department and MHRD officials."