As Delhi witnessed the hottest day in April in the last seven years on Tuesday with the mercury crossing the 43-degree Celsius mark in some parts of the city, teachers and students at Delhi University’s St Stephen’s College sweat it out without air conditioners.
The Safdarjung observatory, the reading of which is considered the official figure for the city, recorded a maximum temperature of 42.5 degrees Celsius, five notches above the season’s average. “It is the hottest day in April since 2010 when the maximum temperature had settled at 43.7 degrees Celsius,” Ravinder Vishan, the in-charge at the Regional Weather Forecasting Centre (RWFC) said.
As the city is battling the heatwave, students and staff of St Stephen’s complained that the college administration has instructed them not to use ACs. The diktat commands students and staff that be it the classrooms, libraries or internet resource centre (computer centre), ACs must not be used. Teachers alleged that in some rooms the electric switch boards were sealed with tape to ensure that they do not put on the appliances.
The college principal, John Varghese, however, said the ACs had not been serviced and hence cannot be used for now. “The air-conditioners cannot be used without maintenance. That is the only reason,” said Varghese, explaining the reason behind the directive.
Teachers claimed that the ACs were serviced last month. But the principal dismissed it as “false information”. “Till Monday we were using the air conditioners. On Tuesday why did the principal decide to not let even a single AC function? If it is cost-cutting, we should be told ,” said a senior teacher at the college. Teachers also said that if ACs had to be serviced, it could have been done after the semester ended on April 26.
“There is almost two weeks time before the exams begin. The servicing could have been done then if it was necessary,” said another teacher of the college. The teachers alleged that the AC in the internet resource centre, which has the main server and is usually remains on 24X7, was also switched off.
When the students reportedly complained, the administration said ACs could be used after April 20. “It was only after the students complained, the administration said we were told that we could use ACs after April 20. April 20 is just too late,” said an economics student, on condition of anonymity.
(with PTI inputs)