In Panjab University, forgo car for hostel!

Chandigarh, June 20 (IANS) Fancy the luxury of a hostel room on the Punjab University (PU) campus here? Well, you’ll have to forgo another luxury for that – your car!

With vehicular population and the resultant chaos, especially for parking, increasing on the beautiful and sprawling 550-acre PU campus, authorities are seriously contemplating guidelines under which hostelers would have to kiss their cars goodbye.

The reason for that is not hard to find. What with 13,500 students and some 600 faculty, on any given day during the academic session, there can be anything between 3,000 and 4,000 cars on the campus that is spread over Sectors 14 and 25. Some 40 percent of these belong to occupants of the 16 residence halls on the campus that accomodate nearly 7,000 students.

But then, in the past, PU authorities have unsuccessfully experimented with making the campus a vehicle-free zone for at least one day a week.

The move is likely to evoke a strong reaction from the student community and student organizations and the PU Campus Students’ Council (PUCSC), the university’s official student’s body.

An immediate provocation for the new rule was a recent incident in which a young boy and girl were involved in a high-speed race on the campus in their luxury cars. The girl, a second year student of legal studies, lost control of her Honda Civic car and landed up in an empty concrete pond near the vice chancellor’s office.

Both students were suspended by the PU authorities, who also imposed heavy penalties of over Rs.40,000 for damaging university property.

“There is a need to de-congest the campus. We are initiating steps to do that,” Dean-Students Welfare (DSW) A.S. Ahluwalia said.

“The university is planning to start a shuttle service on the campus. Students can avail of that facility instead of bringing their own cars,” PU director for public relations Vineet Punia told IANS.

But aspiring and existing hostelers are against any move to ban their cars on the campus.

“In today’s day and age, it is an impractical idea to ban cars for hostel inmates. Students staying in hostels have to move around the city and do other things also,” said Jasroop Singh, who is hoping to be allotted a hostel room and to bring along his Maruti Swift car.

Student leaders, too, are openly opposed to the car ban move.

“We have spoken to many students and based on their feedback, we are against the move to ban cars for hostelers,” PUCSC president Satinder Satti said.

Student leaders say that there are instances where faculty members (husband and wife) and their children come to teaching departments in separate cars, adding to congestion on the roads and parking.

Outside most of the teaching departments and hostels, getting parking space becomes a nightmare at times, especially during peak hours from 8.30 am till 2 pm.

Though parking areas have been increased in recent years, even at the cost of doing away with green areas of the campus, the number of vehicles just keep on increasing.

Even so, there are many who believe all this is much ado over nothing.

“After all, students have to walk just 50 metres to 500 metres between their hostels and the teaching departments. They have to traverse a similar distance between their hostels and the university’s main gate. So, what is the fuss all about?” a university official wondered, preferring anonymity.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>)

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