One of the students said they haven’t had practical classes for over a month

Many government engineering colleges and polytechnics in the State have been finding it difficult to conduct classes since December 2020 as their power supply has been disconnected for a month owing to non-payment of electricity bills. While some colleges reported not receiving power for a single day in December, others said they faced cuts for a few days.

The situation has become so dire that a few principals have requested the Department of Higher Education for permission to suspend classes till electricity supply resumes. Students who started physically attending classes only in the latter half of 2020 are worried.

“We have not had practical classes for over a month now as there is no electricity to switch on the computers,” said a student of Government S.K.S.J. Technology Institute. “Our college management is using a generator to ensure that the toilets have water. They are also using the generator to ensure that there are lights in the office room as the admission process is under way,” he said. A source in the college said that they have around ₹9 lakh bills pending since April 2021 and the department has not given them a budget to run the classes.

College managements said that their respective electricity supply companies are not willing to waive their dues. “We’ve been told electricity will be restored only once the payment is made,” said a college management member.

However, a lecturer of one of the government engineering colleges in Karnataka said, “Although we have not paid our bills, we received electricity after our MLA intervened.” Other colleges have not been fortunate. “Lecturers and students are struggling even for theory classes as the rooms do not have enough light,” the lecturer commented.

Higher Education department officials were unavailable for a comment. But sources in the department The Hindu spoke to said the problem has been made worse by red tape. “The secretary of the higher education department G Kumar Naik has a concurrent charge of the Energy department and is the director of the Karnataka Power Corporation Limited. The issue can be sorted easily, but the department is not considering this a priority,” alleged a source in the higher education department.

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