The country is losing its green cover at a rapid rate. But that is nothing new. What matters are the proactive people and the government policies conducive to bring a massive change in the dark scenario.
As activists and NGOs join hands to fight a difficult battle against human development that threatens the environment by stripping the land of its green cover, the Rajasthan government is making small efforts to turn state-run engineering campuses green.
Imagine planting a tree at the beginning of your academic year and nurturing it til the day you graduate? Or digging water conservation structures to revive depleting groundwater? Or dedicating a few hours every week to clean up your campus?
The Rajasthan government has ordered the launch of four such environmental initiatives in its state-run engineering colleges with the idea of eco-conservation in celebration of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
The Better India (TBI) caught up with the State Secretary, Technical Education Department, Vaibhav Galriya (IAS) to know more.
Rajasthan runs 11 engineering colleges out of eight campuses. The department of technical education holds regular meetings with the principals of the colleges, the board members, experts from Malaviya National Institute of Technology Jaipur (MNIT) and other institutions to discuss and deliberate steps that they can take to improve the performance of these engineering colleges.
Speaking to TBI, Galriya adds how they held four exhaustive meetings in the last six months, where several suggestions came up, and decisions were made to improve academics, infrastructure and environmental development in the colleges.
The technical department for the state also joined hands with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) with the aim to include one industry nominee in the departments of each stream of engineering. This is to help bring qualitative changes in the syllabus, update how the subjects are taught and keep students abreast with the latest changes in the industry.
The department is also planning to change how these colleges appoint their principals. Working with the guidelines of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and planning to issue some of their own in the coming weeks, the department intends to recruit principals for the state-run colleges on a contractual basis for three years.
But what stands out from the highlights of this meeting is the funding (about ten crores) that these colleges will be receiving for infrastructural development like procuring latest laboratory equipment.
By September, we will distribute about Rs 30 crores to help strengthen their infrastructure. Part of the project funding will be allocated for eco-conservation activities within their campuses. Many of these activities fall under the ambit of the Gandhian philosophy as the country celebrates the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, informs Galriya.
Here’s a sneak peek into these initiatives:
“Each new student will be encouraged and motivated to plant a tree when she/he joins this academic session. Their name will be put up next to the tree. From the day of their admission until the day they graduate (four years), they will be the guardians and nurturers of the tree. They will ensure their survival.”
The trees to be planted will be local or native varieties of the region the college is located in. With the average number of new students admitted every year is about 3500, you can imagine the magnitude and scale of the project and its results in the years to come.
Water conservation & solar energy:
Simultaneously, the government has directed all engineering colleges to involve students in the construction of water harvesting structures within the campus to tackle the depletion of groundwater. The students will put in certain hours for shram daan (voluntary service) to contribute to the construction of ponds, bunds, or other structures that can collect rainwater within the campus and help recharge the groundwater table.
The government is also planning to encourage the colleges to harness the power of the sun. “We want to utilise models that exist in the market that require no-input costs. Some companies set up solar panels at their own cost and charge you based on the power you consume per unit, which also is at a discounted rate, almost half the price.”
Keeping Bapu’s emphasis on ‘Swachata’ (Cleanliness) in mind, the students will also dedicate a few hours a week to keep their campus clean.
To help students inculcate Gandhian values, the colleges will invite professors from other universities and experts on Gandhian philosophy conduct seminars and discussions.
“Mahatma Gandhi was instrumental not just in our struggle for independence but also in shaping our country and its values. Engineering students too are responsible citizens of the society, so the idea is to help them seek inspiration from his life and adopt values that will help them contribute to a better society to the best of their ability,” signs off Gariyal.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)