By Nithin Ramesan and Kalyani Subbaiah
This article is part of ‘Inconvenient Truths’, a series on the environmental issues facing our campus. You can view the entire series here.
Zero Deer Deaths!
Deer deaths during Shaastra and Saarang have caused intense scrutiny from the media in the past, and this year, the construction case heard by the Green Tribunal has added to the pressure. In such a scenario, the organizing committees of insti’s festivals implemented numerous measures to make the campus safer for animals at a time when the campus — and the student organizers — faces the herculean task of managing the thousands that arrive from outside for the major shows.
Perhaps the most significant change was the decision to bar vehicles from entering the campus during the Saarang and Shaastra shows. The idea was first put forward during a meeting between the Speaker, Cultural Affairs Secretary, Saarang Cores, Sustainability Network members, and Professor Shanti Bhattacharya (see Part 1, ‘Oh Deer!’, for details).
According to the organizers, ProShow attendees who had booked tickets using Book My Show were informed about the vehicle ban on campus via email and SMS, and vehicles that arrived at the main gate nevertheless were redirected to CLRI, where parking was available. Only vehicles belonging to sponsors and VIPs were allowed to park in the Kendriya Vidyalaya grounds. As a result, the number of cars parked there fell from around 400 last year to about 60 this year.
In order to handle the transit between the main gate and Gajendra Circle, extra cabs and buses were provided by the sponsors of the respective fests (Taxi For Sure and PayPal for Shaastra, and Ola Cabs for Saarang). Using these was deemed better than allowing outside vehicles into the campus, as these hired drivers could be (and were) educated on the speed limits and rules of the campus. Saarang also paid for extra buses that were provided by the institute to ferry people to and fro.
Apart from this, a number of other precautions were taken. Sponsor banners and barricades around the OAT were spaced out to ensure that deer could move freely between them. In an effort to reduce noise pollution, said the CoCAS, the amount of firecrackers that were burst during the Airshow at Shaastra was reduced significantly (noiseproof firecrackers were used). The Cultural Secretaries stated that noise monitors were placed in and around the OAT during ProShows, in order to adhere to the ~90 dB noise limit that is mandated by the government. They added that waste disposal was strictly monitored and disposable utensils used by vendors checked to ensure that animals did not consume unwanted materials that were disposed carelessly.
The measures that the Shaastra and Saarang teams implemented have certainly made the campus safer for deer and other animals — there was not a single case of deer death reported during the two fests. This statistic was confirmed by Prakriti through Prof. Shanti Bhattacharya.
In the future, more parking space will be available at the IITM Research Park, where car parks are being constructed. Other ideas for the future include cycle rickshaws, electric vehicles and a cycle renting system (in the works as of now) — all aimed at reducing the number of vehicles in campus, and more importantly, the usage of insti roads by vehicles from outside.
In the meeting to address deer deaths, there was general consensus on the need for a formalised policy that will help sustain these measures over the years — here’s hoping that this is the first step towards it.
Note: T5E thanks the Cultural Secretaries Supreet Hegde and Varun Teja Salady, and the Co-Curricular Affairs Secretary Siddharth Dialani, for their input. We are also grateful to Professors Shanti Bhattacharya and Susy Varghese for their support.