The Urban Dictionary will tell you that NIMBY is an acronym for Not In My BackYard, to describe the attitude of those who will want to benefit from the advantages of a particular action, but who find that the disadvantages are suddenly unacceptable. The usual situation where nimbyism is typically decried is in an urban setting- opposing a road or a shopping mall coming up too close to ones home, for instance. Of course things are not always a clear case of either/or, so there can be both good and bad connotations to being nimbyistic.

By extension, IMBY describes the opposite attitude. Which would, of course, be acceptable in many situations, especially when there is a clear idea of the greater public good. Regrettably though, and this is the subject of the present post, when it comes to the matter of waste disposal on our campus, imbyism is simply unacceptable. The photographs here are of various sites in and around the central part, behind the Science complex, and near the School of Humanities. More could have been taken, and some of them would illustrate that even less desirable stance: IMNBY or In My Neighbour’s BackYard!

Many of you will have noticed that there is a concerted effort being undertaken to “clean-up” the campus. The quotes are there to underscore the fact that it is not an effort to prettify  the campus in some very artificial way- as superficially attractive as a manicured campus might be, it is not the way our UoH campus is. However, with the dense undergrowth that has been uncared for for many years, the foliage has covered a multitude of sins, mostly that of the way in which we dispose of our waste. Everywhere one can see discarded bottles- both plastic and glass, styrofoam packaging, all manner of trash and garbage. A catalogue of what we throw away would reveal a little too much of ourselves… and I will not go into that. But it can all be seen and sometimes the close proximity of a garbage can makes it all the more tragic.

One spot that worried me a great deal is the pool that has formed behind Gopes, one that is dangerously close to a water source. Waste management on the campus is a joint responsibility – if the system is to work in any manner at all, it needs constant supervision. Drains need to be kept flowing, so trash needs to be segregated and disposed of properly… while making sure that blockages are removed periodically. There is no other solution- we need to work together on this, and on a continual basis.

In the end, it is our campus. Emphasis on our. And keeping it clean and safe is something that all of us should want. So while it is nice to have slogans- Clean Campus, Green Campus or Mana Campus, Mana Hridayam and all that- its essential to go beyond them and see that public spaces on the campus stay unpolluted. That would be the best way we can make the campus habitable for all its denizens, the flora and the fauna, in addition to us…


10 thoughts on “IMBY

  1. I think it is a very essential thing to do and I suppose the beginning can be from the hostel messes since they don’t seem to have a proper way of waste disposal. Gopes, of course, is another place. The plastic ban does not seem very effective either. I hope the student community will realize the importance sooner or later.
    Nice post.

    • Thanks. We will start as you suggest with the hostel messes, but we really need all our campus citizens to make it a point to not discard waste in the open. If finding a trash can is a problem, tell the Admin, and we will make every effort to see that disposal is made more convenient…

      • Thank you Sir, for finding time to grant your assurance in the matter. There was another thing I wanted to say about the student community’s initiative. Last year there was an effort from the North East Community to clean up the campus premises and they partly succeeded. I also had joined them for some time. I have been part of this prestigious institution for the last six years and consider this my second home. When I joined in 2006, I had ticked the coloumn for joining NSS in the application form but didn’t get any information regarding this afterwards. After that, I also lost interest in it and the blame is on me! But, now the admissions are gonna start soon and I think it would be a good idea to have the awareness campaign to start right there itself so that more students would join the NSS and they could launch campaigns to clean the campus which would persuade the rest of the campus community also to care for the cleanliness of our surroundings.
        Thanks for the initiatives, Sir.
        We know you care.

  2. Like every weekend, last sunday I was at the tennis court next to yoga centre. After a short play, I decided to take a walk around the football ground. I noticed an empty plastic bottle and picked it up. Found another one and in no time my hands were full. Discarded them in the trash can next to faculty centre and was back on my walk. More bottles surfaced and I had to make several rounds to the trash to deposit the bottles. The trash can that was empty when I started was overflowing with bottles (captured it on my cell phone) at the end of my walk around the football ground and the basket ball court. Of course, the trash can was not emptied even by yesterday evening. How did this trash arrive at the ground? Who disposed it? One can notice two bunches of huge rocks on the southern and western side of the football court. An year back these rocks were not visible due to bushes and in the recent times the bushes were cleared and these became a spots to hang out. These are the sources of trash that flies into the ground and settles on the corners. More trash is expected at many places due to clearing of bushes and these will be come hang out spots. Further, we have denied the small animals of their space by clearing the bushes. Trees that I was observing for the last two years were cut. I showed one of the trees to my son and we planned to pick fruits next year!! Anyway, there are pros and cons to any decision taken and implemented. Since we are entering into the new academic year, intense campaigning should be initiated to inculcate the habit of disposing trash at designated places only.

  3. Perhaps canteens and messes could set the ball rolling by segregating waste. Colour-coded cans seem to work on campuses abroad – but probably require some sustained supervision here. Maybe student volunteers could supervise for a few months? The campus has enough space for a few vermi-compost pits and with sufficient worms at work, these pits are not smelly or unhygenic. As for non-biodegradable waste, there is so much recycling happening in the Nallagandla area, beyond South campus that it should be easy to arrange a regular pick-up.

  4. This may not be out of place to mention that the comprehensive ‘resource’ utilization plan submitted by the Department of Plant Sciences to the University for support under XI plan has been shelved by the administration for reasons best known to them. The plan included vermi-composting, as well. Lakes and groundwater of the campus were matters of least concern at that time. Thanks to the change of administration – and new thinking of clean campus, with the concern for the the natural lakes and groundwater.

    The dream for an “ideally clean campus” requires more than writing a few lines in the ‘unofficial blog’ by the Vice Chancellor. The commitment has to be made clear officially (in writing) to the middle-level management in the University. Draw an action plan to achieve the target in 3 months, have a rigorous review of its implementation (on priority) every fortnight and see to it there is continuous monitoring from that point. Couple of years ago, as a member of the Campus Amenities Committee, I have suggested different colour bins, segregation of waste and liberal distribution of such bins (to the extent that campus people realize the need to use them all along the campus), so on and so forth. I have not got an opportunity to see the minutes of the meeting (as usual). It would be too much if I talk of even partial implementation of such decision.

    One odd student among 5000 students, and one odd faculty member out of 400 faculty and one odd supporting staff among the 1500 such empolyees will not be able to achieve the goals. The action plan must be comprehensive andpercolate to all sections with the required tone for it to be successful. Can we suggest, as part of such activities, all the residents to reduce the wastage of food in the hostels to 10% of the current level ?

    I would like to appreciate the untiring efforts of Prof. Mohanty (to keep the campus clean) for the next assessment by NAAC. Let us preserve campus biodiversity. We might have unintentionally disturbed a few areas that were home for other creatures !! It would be appreciated more if the campus clean-up dirve has soft corner for the biodiversity of campus.

    Hope to see an official action plan that has 3 months to achieve the goal. Every body shoudl join directly/indirectly to stregthen these efforts. When VC is clear on such issues what can be achieved in 3 months should be achieved even before. Let us dream of a clean campus by October 2, 2012 and pay tribute to “Mahatma Gandhi”.

  5. Let me narrate a practice, which is in anyway not my personal or academic experience but that prevails in HCU’s academic space for quite a long time. In every moment we pretend that this is a highly democratized and enlightened sphere. But if you look at some of the relationships between research scholars (both M Phil and PhD) and their supervisors we could find that the students are conceived as ‘slaves’ and the supervisors are behaving like ‘masters’ in a pre-modern society. Torturing, harassment and a kind of humiliation are the common characteristic features of these supervisors. My intention is not to critique all the faculty members in HCU campus or to generalize this practice but to illuminate about this reality. In most of the departments, one or two faculty members can be categorized as ‘masters’. They might have the baggage of great scholarship but it is not providing any legitimacy to question another one’s dignity and self-esteem in terms of guidance. The PhD and M Phil programmes are supposed to disseminate the ideas of the students by enriching their theoretical and analytical ability. Paradoxically, this category of supervisors are demoralizing the students in every possible occasion, imposing their ideas in the work by attributing that the students’ own ideas are imperfect, immature and invalid and also they do not have enough patience even to listen to their students properly before making these categorical judgments. Hence these students are highly fretful, dismal and annoyed even though they are not willing to express it explicitly. It is not because of their cowardice but they are afraid about the negative implications of it. I acknowledge the fact that some of the students might be below their expectations and they might have failed to produce the assigned work within stipulated time frame. In such situations it would have been better to convey these supervisors discomfort and discontents by acknowledging the dignity of those students. But unfortunately this is not the way they are following. Surprisingly, if we begin to evaluate the academic credentials of faculty members and their academic performance the results will be evidently discredit some of their ability to supervise the students at the M Phil and PhD level. But the hierarchical power structure of the institution protects them, constructing legitimacy for their ‘academic arrogance’ and also providing huge benefits and promotions for their commitment to the ‘arrogance’. In this context, we, as an academic community have to look into and undertake these issues and to fight against these undemocratic practices. Some of these ‘masters’ are very well known for their incredible academic writings in terms of democracy, human rights, equality, gender equity, identity, social justice etc. But, in fact these ‘masters’ are highly undemocratic in their professional engagements with their students. So I think without waiting much we have to crush the camouflage of their academic hypocrisy in order to uphold the democratic rights and dignity of the students. No one can undertake this difficult task if they are alone in the battle field. A collective and conscious effort of the students’ community is the only way to root out this undemocratic practice from our campus.

  6. Sir,
    I have personally noticed that the number of dustbins on campus are not enough. Also the ones that exist are not placed in proper locations. The increase in dustbins and their proper placement will definitely help decrease the pollution. I am sure the student community will use them effectively .
    Another question that has been bothering me for quite sometime now is where and how are the chemicals disposed in our science labs ? Is there a proper chemical waste disposal system in place ?

    • Good points, Bharati. There is a group of people looking into this- getting bins, putting them in the right place and so on. The disposal of hazardous material is an important component of our UPE-II objectives. We do have a system in place but it is not ideal. Do raise it with other groups as well, and with the concerned departments- I am sure they will be happy to tell you the current practices.

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