The southern bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the IIT-Madras to protect the endangered species like blackbuck in its campus. Resuming hearing on a petition by animal welfare activist Antony Clement Rubin, Judicial Member Justice M S Nambiar said “no damage or injury shall be caused to any of the endangered species”. “All the endangered species have to be protected,” Justice Nambiar said in his direction. Also, animals, including those found in the Schedule to the Wild Life Protection Act, should be protected in the campus, he said. Solid waste, including plastic in the Indian Institute of Technology campus, is injurious to deer and blackbucks and it also pollutes the environment and necessary action should be taken to halt this, Rubin, also an honorary animal welfare officer (HAWO) with the Animal Welfare Board of India, said in his plea.
The NGT had last month directed the IIT-Madras to remove all solid waste dumped or scattered in and around the campus. Since blackbuck is an endangered species, if any injury or death was caused to it due to IIT’s inaction, the “polluter pays” principles would be invoked against it, the green tribunal had said. The tribunal had last month also directed the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) to depute a senior officer to inspect the campus and submit a status report on aspects, including the disposal of solid waste.
The TNPCB filed its report, referring to its inspection of the IIT-Madras campus on December 1. “The IIT-Madras is maintaining records on the collection and disposal of bio-degradable and non-biodegradable municipal solid waste generated in the premises,” the TNPCB said. It was noticed that no plastic waste was dumped in Krishna Gate, Velachery Gate and STP area, the Board said. In its previous report, the Board had flagged plastic waste in these locations in the campus. The report said IIT-Madras has applied for consent (CTE- Consent to Establish) of the Board for the “additional building constructed or under-construction after the year 2006”.
The Forest Department submitted in November that due to the presence of solid waste, stray dogs enter the campus and attack deer and blackbucks, causing fatal injuries to them. It sought directions for removal of all solid waste. The IIT-Madras submitted that it had already removed the solid waste and pointed out that some solid waste was thrown into the campus by neighbours and a complaint was filed with the civic authorities in this respect. The IIT-Madras in May this year, in an RTI reply to Rubin, said 220 deer and eight blackbucks died between 2014-16 in its campus and the petitioner later moved the tribunal. The NGT’s southern bench posted the matter for further hearing to January 24 next year.