Despite the hostel at Symbiosis International at Bhandewadi in Nagpur being a quarantine centre, that houses hundreds of COVID-19 suspects, especially from one of the biggest hotspots in the city – Satranjipura, the educational institute resumed its administrative work few days back. Although the hostel is not too near to the administrative department, one can’t rule out the fact that both the buildings are situated on the same campus and people nearby pose a heavy risk of COVID-19 infection.
After few residents from the surrounding areas of Symbiosis International informed team Nation Next on Saturday that the faculties of one of the country’s premier educational institutions had resumed work on the campus, we did a thorough investigation on the same. One of our team members even tried to get inside the campus to check the same but our team member wasn’t allowed to get inside.
When Nation Next spoke to Dr Vidya Yeravdekar, Pro Chancellor and Principal Director at Symbiosis, about faculties resuming work on Nagpur campus, she said, “It’s true that we’ve resumed work on both Pune and Nagpur campus but we’re strictly following the guidelines given by the respective municipal corporations of Nagpur and Pune.” Yeravdekar, who spoke to us over the phone from Symbiosis’ Pune campus, said that as the institute was starting online courses for its students, it was necessary for the faculties to visit the campus. But only the limited number of teach and non-teaching staff, as per the guidelines of the respective municipal corporations, is visiting campus.”
After speaking to Yeravdekar, Nation Next got in touch with Additional Municipal Commissioner of Nagpur Ram Joshi to enquire about the same. He told us, “No educational institution or private offices have been allowed to resume work in COVID-19 lockdown so far. Moreover, Symbiosis being a quarantine centre, one has to be extra careful.” Even in the Unlock 1.0 guidelines issued by the government of Maharashtra state that educational institutions are not supposed to re-open till July.
When we spoke to a prominent lawyer in Nagpur, he said, “Even if Symbiosis claims to be operating as a private office, as per the guidelines of Unlock 1.0, they’re not allowed to re-open their offices before June 8 as per the fresh guidelines.”
Later, when we called up on one of the landline numbers provided on the official website of the institute, one of the staff members on Nagpur campus told us that around 10% of the total staff had resumed their work on the campus. However, he immediately contradicted himself by claiming that only 10 staff members were functioning. He assured us that the institution was following all the required norms. He, then, asked us to confirm the same from the admin office. When we called up at the admin office, a receptionist put us through to admin head Dr Sukhwinder Bahri (as told by Symbiosis admin department to Nation Next correspondent).
When we even him about the capacity, in which the institution was functioning and whether the institution had obtained the required permissions to start operations, he didn’t reply and the phone got disconnected.
When we called up on the same number again, a receptionist answered the call saying Dr Bahri was occupied in a webinar hence couldn’t talk to us. The receptionist assured us saying he would get back to us on the same. We didn’t get a call back or any text message from him despite our repeated attempts to seek answers.