IITK should withdraw eviction notice to Dhobi community
Prof. Abhay Karandikar
Director, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur
Kanpur, UP, India
Dear Prof Karandikar,
We, the undersigned, would like to express our deepest concerns towards the Dhobi families who have been served notice to evict IITK premises by April 28, 2018. We appeal to you to withdraw the eviction notice with immediate effect on the following grounds:
1. Dhobis have been serving the IITK students, faculty, staff, and their families for the last 57 years without any serious complaints. The founding director, Prof P K Kelkar, invited them to settle within the campus and provide their invaluable services and become part of the entire IIITK community. It would be morally wrong to break that promise and make Dhobi families homeless and without work.
2. As the student strength has increased so has the demand for their services. With availability of cheap labour in Indian context, automation through washing machines is not a better option considering higher energy costs and adverse impact on environment.
3. We understand that students are also against this notice of eviction to Dhobis because their services are quite affordable to the campus community (Rs 5-8 per cloth) which makes us even wonder about the rationale behind this decision. Passing the operating cost of these machines to students who are already complaining about high electricity charges, makes no sense.
4. Dhobi Ghat area is too small to be utilized for hostel or academic facilities. In any case, those buildings should not be constructed by throwing out the thriving community living there for the past 57 years.
5. In the capacity of our different roles as teachers, students, staff and alumni, we have extremely fond memories interacting with the Dhobis of IITK. Some alumni still meet them in their reunions. Such a long relationship should not be annulled in such an unjust cavalier manner.
6. The institute has been collecting rent and electricity charges from Dhobis for a long period of time without providing them with proper toilet facilities and other basic amenities. Instead of striving to improve their living and working conditions (such as menace caused by increased intrusion of cattle), IITK may be undermining the credits earned by the Dhobi community and foregoing its moral obligations.
We, the concerned, therefore appeal you to withdraw the eviction notice with immediate effect.
With sincere regards,
For more background of eviction notice sent to the Dhobis at IIT Kanpur:
A presentation made by a student in 2010 reflecting living and working conditions of the Dhobi community: