The horticulture staff of Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) on Friday set afire a green belt on the varsity campus, reducing to ashes more than a dozen trees and also inflicting damage on the flora and fauna, thus resulting in pollution and also raising the hackles of environmentalists here.
These trees, planted by the university’s horticulture staff itself, were burnt when they put on fire dead leaves and overgrown grass in the green belt to clean the premises. The fire emitted huge smoke and some students contacted Mission Aagaaz, an NGO working on environmental issues.
“When we reached the spot we found that at least a dozen trees had been badly charred in the university’s green belt, while some small animals also had died due to the fire, lighted to dispose of dead leaves and the grass,” said Deepak Babbar, director, Mission Aagaaz.
He said similar incidents were reported in the past as well when the university staff set afire its green belts outside the campus to dispose of dead leaves. That there were other environment-friendly ways to deal with it, Babbar said such methods were taught at some of the university departments.
“One way of dealing with dead leaves and overgrown grass is to through vermin-compost or converting these into organic compost, which could be used to tend to plants all over the campus,” he said.
Despite having dedicated botanical and environmental sciences and zoological sciences departments, the university yet followed practices detrimental to the environment, he claimed.
“University teachers present papers on these issues in various conferences, but never actually practice what they preach. The amount of pollution and damage caused to the environment by the fire is immense,” he said.
PS Bhatti, president, Missionaries Khudai Khidmatgaran, said burning caused significant damage to trees and species living in a given greenbelt.
“Trees act as natural scavengers and water purifiers as they absorb dirty water and release it into the atmosphere after purifying it. Burning retards the process of photosynthesis in them and cuts their life by almost 50 per cent,” he said.
He called upon the public and the university authorities to take care of the city’s green wealth. GNDU authorities could not be contacted for their comments despite repeated attempts.