VILUPPURAM: A mortuary that once doubled up as a dining hall, and an operation theatre that is really a dirty room with three cots – the state of a privately run college in Tamil Nadu is emerging in grotesque detail after three of its students were found dead on Saturday.
Their slippers and bags were found nearby.
“Act at least now against this college,” says a suicide note that they allegedly wrote describing the appalling lack of even basic facilities in the eight-year-old SSV College of Naturopathy and Yoga Sciences in Viluppuram, 170 km from Chennai.
The girls had been fighting to be heard by the administration, say their parents, who allege that they were murdered. The note says: “The college chairperson calls us criminals. We came under stress.”
A tour of the college appears to confirm their allegations.
The campus located on the Chennai-Salem highway has just one permanent block for classrooms and faculty. Everything else is makeshift, including the operation theatre, the cardiology department and the x-ray section.
There is no hospital building though it is claimed on a signboard.
Inside the room labeled Operation Theatre there are a few cots, suction apparatus, a tattered cloth screen and a false ceiling that looks ready to collapse. The ‘Nutrition and Diet’ room has tables, a water dispenser, a bowl and a chart pasted on the wall.
What is meant to be the mortuary is being used to stock cement bags. Previously, it was where students ate, alleges the father of one of the girls found dead.
“They earlier used the ward as hostel for students and the mortuary as student dining room,” said Tamilarasan.
His daughter Monisha and her two friends had complained repeatedly about the lack of facilities in the college, and the exorbitant fees they allegedly charged without anything to show for it.
Parents allege that the college charged more than three times the fee prescribed by the government. “My daughter got admission through the government merit quota, still they collected six lakh in two years and demanded more,” said Monisha’s mother T Sangeetha.
R Ramamurthy, a lawmaker, said: “The college violates all norms laid by the Medical Council of India and Ayush, the ministry that oversees naturopathy colleges. They were informed and they inspected the college but no action was taken”.
The Ayush ministry and the MGR Medical University that this college is affiliated to, have not responded to the allegations yet.