Fed up of steep house rents and mess charges, students of Delhi University went on an indefinite hunger strike on Wednesday. They demanded that the university take steps to protect them against arbitrary rent hikes and errant landlords.
Six students from different departments went on strike and asked the university to take some action to make life easier for students on campus. "Life on the campus has become very difficult for students who come from outside Delhi. There is a dire shortage of hostels and rent in areas around the university are astronomical. One meal in the hostels costs over Rs. 50. Studying in the university has become tough," said Kamlesh Mishra, a student of the Faculty of Law, who has also gone on strike.
The students had written to the Delhi University administration last week, demanding that the university make accomodation available for all its regular students. Till the time this can be achieved, the university should provide healthy and nutritious food at reasonable rates to them, the students have demanded.
They have demanded that the university, in collaboration with the Delhi government, help fix the rent of rooms around north and south campus as per the Delhi Rent Control Act. There are around 1.8 lakh regular students in the University, of whom only about 6,000 get hostels.
"The university did not respond and we were forced to go on strike. The rent of a small squalid room in North Campus is around Rs. 5,000 now. Add to this is the cost of food and other living expenses and students are forced to spend anywhere between Rs. 10,000 and Rs. 15,000 each month," said Mishra.
University officials acknowledged the problem. "In the past few years, the university has seen more and more students from outside Delhi and that has created a problem in terms of housing. The university has plans to build more hostels. As for affordable food, we have already tied up with the Indian Railways and will soon have canteens that sell affordable food," a senior DU official said.