Even as scores of newly set up departments at Panjab University continue to function in small rooms allotted within existing ones, a three-storied building at the botany department has remained unutilised for the past four years.
The structure, which according to sources was completed in 2010 at a cost of over Rs 1.25 crore, has five laboratories and a dozen rooms spread across the floors in the department’s extended wing. Even the furniture in the rooms appears unused. The sources said while the vice chancellor at the time RC Sobti, wanted to allot the building to the de par tment of environment studies (DEVS), this was opposed by many in the botany department.
Sobti had even issued verbal orders for DEVS to be shifted to the new building, following which the latter put up its signboard that still stands outside the deserted block. “However, RK Kohli, the head of botany and DEVS at the time, raised questions over environmental clearance, quality of construction materials used, electricity load and firefighting measures in the newly built building, which the UT engineering department has yet to address, due to which the building has not been occupied,” the sources added.
Environmental studies is not the only department that suffers from a shortage of space. Many departments opened in the past decade, including the Centre for Systems Biology & bioinformatics, Institute of Forensic Science & criminology, Centre for Nano Science & Nanotechnology and the Centres for Public Health and Nuclear Medicine, are functioning from temporary spaces allotted to them. So pressing is the space crunch, in f act, that several varsity departments are forced to share classrooms and labs and make do with small rooms as office space.
Many departments, the sources added, even have to keep scientific instruments worth lakhs of rupees in open classrooms. Meanwhile, botany department chairman AS Ahluwalia, who has claimed the newly constructed block belongs to his department, said: “At a meeting held recently with top PU officials on the issue we were told the deficiencies in the building would be addressed and it would be handed over to the department soon.”
Meanwhile, DEVS chair man HP Singh said his department continued to house its labs and hold classes in some rooms in the old botany department building. “As of now the new space is meant for us, and we’ve been told it would soon be handed over to us,” he added. PU registrar AK Bhandari was not available for comments. A varsity spokesman, when contacted, said the building in question was ready for use now and would be allotted soon.