Five months after a petition was filed to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) asking for a complete ban on non-recyclable plastics in the IIT-Madras campus, the tribunal on Tuesday ordered the institute to remove all solid waste and construction from the campus in one week.
In May 2017, Antony Rubin, an honorary animal welfare officer of Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) had filed a petition in NGT asking for a complete ban on non-recyclable plastics in the IIT campus, to shift fests like Shaastra, Saarang and other events, which draw a large crowd and to minimise the number of vehicles.
The activist had approached the NGT following an RTI reply that stated that 220 deer and 8 blackbucks had died at the IIT- campus between 2014 and 2016. Antony had in his petition emphasised that Saarang, IIT-Mâ€™s yearly cultural fest added severe stress on the fragile ecosystem.
The institute had, however, responded to the deaths stating that efficient process for solid waste management is in place and had blamed the increasing number of stray dogs in the campus for the death of the animals.
In its interim order on Tuesday, NGT directed IIT-Madras to clean the campus of all solid waste and construction in one week. The tribunal also directed senior officials from TNPCB (Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board) and Chennai corporation to inspect IIT Madras and file a report.
The tribunal also stated that any event conducted inside campus should have controlled sound and avoid plastic to the maximum. The tribunal highlighted that blackbucks are endangered species and warned that the polluters pay principle may be imposed on IIT-Madras if any violations are found.
TNPCB had also submitted a report to the National Green Tribunal on July 17, 2017. It stated that the institution has constructed 10 buildings after September 2006 and no consent from TNPCB was taken for it. Moreover, plastic waste was noticed in some areas of the campus, namely, the area near Krishna Gate, Velachery Gate, and the STP area.
Tuesdayâ€™s interim order has come as a relief for activists. â€śWe welcome the move, we would want a plastic free zone and deer have been getting injured due to construction debris, if that can be dealt with this order then it is a good order,â€ť said Antony Rubin.