Kota hostels yet to take steps to check suicides by students | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Kota hostels yet to take steps to check suicides by students

May 13, 2024 07:34 AM IST

Around 300 hostels in Kota, Rajasthan, have yet to install mandated anti-suicide devices on ceiling fans, amid rising student suicides.

Around 300 hostels and paying guest (PG) accommodations in Kota district of Rajasthan are yet to install a spring device on ceiling fans, as mandated by the administration, to prevent students from taking their lives, a recent survey amid a series of suicides by hanging this year has revealed.

Students from around the country arrive in Kota in huge numbers after completing Class X, and register in residential test-prep institutes. They also enroll in schools, most of which are largely for purposes of certification. (HT File)
Students from around the country arrive in Kota in huge numbers after completing Class X, and register in residential test-prep institutes. They also enroll in schools, most of which are largely for purposes of certification. (HT File)

The survey, conducted by the district administration between February and April, also found that the staff at several such accommodations failed to undergo a mandatory training session to professionally deal with students and keep a check on early signs of stress and depression.

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Also read: NEET aspirant goes missing from Kota day after taking exam

The exercise was carried out by a nine-member panel that was formed on February 17 to monitor the execution of district and state government guidelines at hostels and PG accommodations, which were enforced last year amid growing instances of suicides among students preparing for various competitive exams.

Nine students died by suicide this year, including eight by hanging. Last year, the overall count stood at 27 – the highest since 2015, when the administration began keeping a track of such cases – with four of them taking their lives in a similar manner.

“A survey of all 4,500 registered hostels and PG accommodations in Kota conducted between February and April this year showed that around 300 of them are yet to install spring-loaded ceiling fans as mandated by the district administration,” Rajasthan Administrative Service (RAS) officer Sunita Daga, who is the nodal officer of the panel, said.

“Another 300 hostels and PG accommodations were found not undertaking the mandatory training sessions for the staff. A total of 126 such accommodations were found violating both the guidelines,” she added.

The RAS officer said that around 1,000 hostels were found operating without any fire no-objection certificate.

Kota is the centre of India’s test-prep business, estimated to be worth 10,000 crore annually, according to officials in the district administration. Students from around the country arrive here in huge numbers after completing Class X, and register in residential test-prep institutes. They also enroll in schools, most of which are largely for purposes of certification.

Students attend classes only in the test-prep institutes, which prepare them for their Class XII examination, but more importantly, entrance examinations such as National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) and Joint Entrance Examination (JEE). Some students find the grind stressful, especially because they are away from their families.

Amid a surge in suicides among students, the district administration on August 18 last year ordered all hostels and PG accommodations to install spring-loaded fans in rooms “to provide students mental support and security”.

Days later, on September 28, the Rajasthan government announced a series of measures to prevent suicides among students, such as a mandatory screening test, the alphabetical sorting of students into sections instead of a ranking-based one, and the admission of students who are in Class IX or higher.

Also read: Kota suicides: District administration forms teams to supervise coaching centres

Daga said that around three hostels have been sealed so far for violating the guidelines and notices were issued to several others for a similar reason.

“Notices were issued in the last three months and these accommodations have been given a month’s time to fix all these issues. Our team is keeping an eye on them. Any violations will attract strict action. Our primary goal is to save as many lives of students as possible,” she added.

The RAS officer said that in most cases, the installation of an anti-suicide device in ceiling fans was a common violation. “The hostel staff also did not participate in our mandatory training sessions,” she said.

“The session helped several other hostel staff to save multiple lives in the last five months. According to our survey, around 1,500 students were found depressed by the hostel staff after they arrived in Kota. Around 70 students were prevented from taking the extreme step. We are holding an additional awareness programme for the ones who are not following these norms,” she added.

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