www.punemirror.com | January 14, 2019
By Damayanti Saha
STUDENTS TALK ABOUT AT COLLEGES, PROJECTS THAT HAVE BEEN PUT TO GOOD USE, AND CULTIVATING A CONSCIENCE ON CAMPUS
Rapid urbanisation has percolated through Pune’s boundaries, with the city now mushrooming well beyond its circumference and, in the process, slowly gnawing into the once-sprawling green cover. As this metropolitan sprawl sucks in more energy to sustain itself, the bleak canvas of the future has a slim, verdant vein creeping across it — in a heartening trend, it has been noted that the city’s educational campuses seem to be slowly moving towards a greener and conservation-conscious ethic through small-yet-effective methods. These include attention to adopting solar energy, moves to protect existing fl ora around college premises, and other innovative techniques to cut down conventional energy usage, all providing a fi llip to a burgeoning students’ movement.
Similarly, over at SP College, students mobilise the protection of their campus ecology in varied ways. For instance, one scholar here has taken up the initiative of documenting all the plants around — many of which are rare species — and created a meticulous archive. These plants can now be scanned by QR code for more know-how. Further, the college has also implemented ‘silent zones’ to ensure that birds are not driven away by careless humans.
While lauding such efforts, some students from FLAME Universityalso advised caution with regards to plantations on campuses. On their premises, Smriti Jalihal (19), a second-year student, said some trees are native, while others have been introduced — a phenomenon that could have drastic negative effects on an ecosystem if not curated. This was emphasised by Mrinalini Godara (20), an environmental studies student from the same college, who added that her peers have become more conscience about the specifics of plantation now. “It is made clear in advance that only plants compatible with an area’s climate and other factors can be grown. For example, recent fruit plantations we made were chosen based on what would be conducive to the environment. The climate, soil conditions and water requirements were all considered carefully,” she informed. Interestingly, in their medicinal garden, several plants listed under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species have also been planted.
Besides bolstering the green quotient, students have also undertaken projects keeping in mind the larger picture of cleanliness, pollution, waste management, and other burning issues. An instance of these shining efforts can be seen at SP College, where conservation is cultivated in labs, too. Swanandi Bhanose (18), a first-yearstudent here — who credits her learnings on conservation to the Kirloskar Vasundhara inter-college fest — cited a chemistry department project, in which they calculate the carbon footprint of their campus every year and develop green audits for other colleges as well. “Over the years, this has led to creating a distinct consciousness about energy usage on campus,” she shared.
Another student, Niranjan Velankar from the electronics department, has built motion sensors for daily electronic appliances, so that they switch off automatically when no one is using them. He further created an app so that the system can be more efficient and handy. However, he decried the fact that many students are not very involved in the process of waste management, so the vermicomposting of wet waste collected separately is usually done by campus staff.
An echo of this situation can be found at FLAME University. Here, environment science student Jalihal claimed there is no segregated collection of dry and wet waste at all — everything is dumped in the same dustbin, and workers contracted from an external company carry it to a shed on the outskirts of the campus. There, the waste is manually segregated by the organisation SWaCH, which later gets it recycled or composted. “For workers who separate our waste, it is known that work conditions are difficult. They have to handle sanitary waste by hand, and most students don’t even wrap their sanitary napkins properly or indicate that it is sanitary waste. Moreover, the segregators work in the sun as the shed provided to them is really small,” she said, emphasising that no one is mindful of the way they dispose of their trash.
All this came together last year to finally lead to the formation of an environment club at this college. According to Godara, improving the waste management system — especially segregation at the source — tops its agenda. She added, “Students need to understand this key process. It makes garbage disposal systems easier and fairer for all involved.”
The club also promotes recycling and raising awareness about eco-priorities through posters, social media and events. They have further planned for a cleanliness drive and ‘Earth Hour’ for everyone on campus to switch off the lights. “That apart, we urgently need to do something about excessive and unnecessary water usage on campus,” she said, adding, “There is a water recycling system in place, where used water comes to a waterbody in the centre of the campus. Here, it is cleaned and used again for gardening and other non-drinking domestic purposes. Yet, there is still a lot of wastage, especially when it is used to clean concrete structures to maintain aesthetic appeal.”
Making of a conscience
While these small efforts are a significant push towards more holistic living, students have admitted that there is a long way to go, as college managements still tend to heavily rely on electrical and nonrenewable energy. But, there are exceptions — at PICT, Ade shared that that they are veering towards solar energy, along with deploying methods to prevent water wastage. For instance, there are automatic light switches in corridors and washrooms, which switch off on their own when no one is present. “We are trying to implement the same system for classrooms as well,” he said. Similarly, they also use taps that turn off automatically after a certain period of time. Ade highlighted that students are taking up tree plantation drives, too, and conveying the importance of this phenomenon via street plays, and so on.
He suggested that on an individual level, one can resort to carrying reusable bags and avoiding products from firms that are not environmentfriendly.
Bhanose from SP College affirmed this stand, emphasising that such awareness — where individual efforts shine together on a collective plane — needs to be fortified. “While efforts are made by aware students, faculty, and other staff, general lack of sentience reduces their impact,” she mused. According to her, every campus needs to be doing its own bit towards sustenance, always keeping in mind room for improvement. Hopefully, this is where this movement is headed, and brings in a much-needed and urgent acceleration soon, many students confided in Mirror.