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Back on campus for research, scholars say samples destroyed during lockdown

The university campus, which had been shut for students since March in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, recently allowed research scholars of science courses to return and resume their work.
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON DEC 07, 2020 09:47 AM IST

Several scholars who have recently returned to the campus after eight months to resume their research work at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) have said that they found a lab situated in the special Centre for Nanosciences in a dilapidated condition. They alleged that the soil samples they had collected for their research work from different parts of the country were now unusable.

The university campus, which had been shut for students since March in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, recently allowed research scholars of science courses to return and resume their work.

Ishita Manna, a PhD Scholar, who was working in the laboratory before the lockdown was announced to contain Covid-19 pandemic, said, “We collect soil samples from different landscapes such as the mountains, including the Himalayas, rivers and desert. We collect rare soil samples and find out their age. We were immediately asked to leave the campus when the lockdown was announced. We could not even check on our samples. We sent several emails to the administration requesting them to allow me to return and check on my samples. Now, we have returned and found that all our samples are completely destroyed.”

“We found the lab in a very bad shape. Termites have destroyed all the doors and cabinets. We can see vegetation growing on a wall of the lab. We seriously do not know how to resume our research work. My samples don’t exist anymore,” she said.

Also read | JNU students fined for ‘illegal’ entry into hostels

Despite several attempts, JNU Rector 2 Satish Chandra Garkoti did not respond to calls and texts sent for a comment.

Similar complaints have been made by some other scholars. “I have been collecting these samples since 2016 and now they have been destroyed by termites. I don’t know how I will resume my work now. How will I collect all the samples again? It’s a very expensive and time taking process,” said another research scholar.

Milap Chand Sharma, Manna’s supervisor and president of JNU teachers’ association (JNUTA), said he had written to the administration in September raising concerns over the condition of the lab. “I myself had written to Rector 2 of JNU requesting him to give us permission to check the laboratory and remove extra stuff from the roof. But we did not get any response. Now, the lab remained closed for over eight months and got destroyed.”

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