Environment
In a picture taken by an IIT student, a deer can be seen eating paper, and there is garbage including plastic strewn all around it.

The IIT Madras campus is home to many deer and blackbucks. But the animals are dying in large numbers inside the campus because of speeding vehicles and garbage strewn inside on the sides of the roads. While activists have been raising the issue for several years now, a photo taken by a student inside the campus recently shows that not much has been done to address it.

A deer was caught on camera eating paper recently, and there was more garbage, including plastic, strewn around.

Speaking to TNM, Antony Rubin, honourary animal welfare officer of Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), said, “For weeks the garbage is not cleaned up inside the campus. Even Tamil Nadu Pollution Control says in its report that garbage is a big problem and plastic is everywhere.”

He added that IIT has put up a stall in the blackbuck area, and that the whole area is destroyed. “They have made it to a mela for orientation programmes for freshers,” said Antony.

Image: Mela inside IIT-M campus

The garbage - and the increasing footfall inside the campus - have proven fatal for many animals. Just a month back, a fawn was hit by a vehicle and died, the driver was caught by the security guards and the forest officials were informed about the incident.

Antony Rubin had filed an RTI on April 6, 2017, questioning the number of deaths of deer and blackbuck in the campus. "It was quite shocking. 220 deer and 8 blackbuck had died between 2014 and 2016, but nobody has even made a noise about it. As far as cause of deaths are concerned, only one death has been attributed to an accident," he had earlier told TNM.  

According to past reports, the postmortems of several deer led to the discovery of sanitary napkins and condoms in their stomachs. Moreover, several of the animals had allegedly injured their hooves by stepping on glass.

The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), too, has given a report on the plastic waste inside the campus.

After an inspection by a TNPCB engineer, a report was submitted to the National Green Tribunal on July 17, 2017, stating that the institution has constructed 10 buildings after September 2006 and no consent from TNPCB was taken for it. It also states that plastic waste was noticed in some areas of the campus, namely, the area near Krishna Gate, Velachery Gate, and the STP area.

“Action must be taken to provide display boards in all strategic area namely residential quarters, stores, canteen, hostels, academic buildings etc showing ill effects of plastics,” the report had said.

Antony had also filed a petition to the National Green Tribunal, in which he had asked for a complete ban on non-recyclable plastics in the IIT campus, and also the shifting of festivals like ‘Shaastra’, ‘Saarang’ and other events to outside the campus, since they draw a large crowd inside IIT-M.

The petition was marked to the State of Tamil Nadu, IIT-M, Greater Chennai Corporation, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) and the Tamil Nadu Forest Department.

“The next hearing of the case before the NGT is August 7, 2017. The Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA), IIT Madras, Chennai corporation, Forest department, have to file their responses by then,” said Antony.