Interview with the Convener of Hostels, Dr A Sreekanth

Dated 24/12/2015

1. Could you tell our readers a time line, as to when the suggestion of adding a penalty clause to the Mess Tender first arose?

Penalty clause in mess tender arose first in 2014 tender. However it was never executed. The power to impose penalty was vested to chief warden. But how chief warden assess the situation. How he arrives at penalty etc. were not clear. All penalties are almost live in character it is hard to asses such issues after a day or a weeks’ time. Somebody should report it live and chief warden should trust it and accept it as it is. Sometimes validating proofs will be absent.

2. So, how were you able to successfully convince the caterers to accept the penalty clause for the current year?

This year situation is a walk over for us. Even in past they accepted the penalty clause. But did we implement is the question.

3. How will the terms of the tender be implemented, and how often will the Mess Squad carry out inspections of their respective mess’? Will they have regular meetings with the wardens?

Mess squad should be self-responsible. Periodic checking can ensure hygiene, quality of raw materials and taste. However almost all other issues in penalty has to be reported by a student to the squad silently and squad should act instantly. Once squad consisting of even a minimum available number of members if convinced of it, can recommend penalty blindly. Squad will consist of students and wardens and some RSCs. They need not function as a full team. They can split themselves and work. But any minimum 3 members should be there always when they assess the situation. Squad will be common for all messes. Not pertaining to any single mess.

4. While the structure of the Mess Squad has been laid, what will be the function of the other body – ‘The Mess Committee’? Whom will it comprise of, and will they oversee the volunteers?

Mess committee will have 2 jobs.
1. Monthly feedback to be collected from all the students of the hostel. Present feedback system of stewards collecting it from the mess during dining time and sampling of 200 is not comprehensive. Its erratic nature was very clear while we sat for finalizing the price bids.
2. Discuss the overall quality control, as well as 25% payment of the mess bill.
They will neither oversee the squad nor will they involve in the squad. They will be selected once in a year, like the same way they are elected now.

5. Were there any other notable changes to the tender process from the last year?

We have reduced the annual turnover of the caterer to 30 LPA from 50 LPA and number of years of experiences to 3 years inclusive of 2015 compared to 5 years from past tender.
Penalty clause was already there but implementation was absent. We have included that.
Food court proposal is taken, now I have few proposals with me, ready to implement.
Another brave decision was reduction of number of diners per mess and increase in number of caterers.
Regular non-veg in menu
Exclusive Veg mess rather than combining with first years
Two separate caterers for OPAL
Inclusion of regional demands of Andhra and Kerala.

6. Can you tell us more about the proposal for the 18-hour Food Court? Will it be possible to see one being run in the near future?

I have asked CPWD to vacate from D mess. Once it is vacant, we will award a food court. Proposal is ready and one caterer also identified. Apart from food court, food corners are also planned, caterers are ready for all delicacies. Kiosks are to be purchased and equipped for that. My aim is Food court by mid Feb I am pretty sure of it.  As of now it will be pay and eat once it runs for a while and stabilize we could give option for dinner out and dine in food court with mess fees like in IITS.

7. With regard to the quality of food, the ingredients and the oils used, what exactly will be process of the inspections done by the Mess Squad? For instance, will they be allowed entry into the kitchens to collect samples of the material they find? And will they be required to notify the caterer before an inspection?

Absolutely mess squad is permitted to enter kitchen, stores and view and check and collect the samples. That is where the fun is.

8. Can students other than the Mess Volunteers access the kitchens if they happen to notice anything an unusual practice?

Well I won’t advocate that. It’s should be a win-win situation. We are here to solve issues not create. If people notice an unusual practice they should call mess squad.



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