Presidency student fights mosquitoes, apathy for plastic-free campus
A Presidency University student in Kolkata is fighting to ensure the PU campus turns environment-friendly. So far, he has spent seven nights on the campus, braving mosquitoes and apathy from fellow students.Updated: Aug 28, 2019 09:15 IST
Aryan Agrahari spends every Thursday and Friday night inside the campus of Presidency University (PU) all by himself.
The third-year economics student carries a bed sheet or a mat, his books and a set of posters with him as he gets inside the campus around 10pm. He then spreads the mat in front of an iconic staircase of the 200-year-old building, places the posters beside him and starts reading.
At six in the morning, he leaves the campus in Kolkata for his hostel and comes back after a few hours to attend classes. This has been his routine since August 2.
The 21-year-old is fighting to ensure the PU campus turns environment-friendly. So far, he has spent seven nights on the campus, braving mosquitoes and apathy from fellow students.
“I have three demands to which I want to draw the attention of the authorities and the students as well. The campus must be made free of plastic and rainwater harvesting facilities and solar panels must be installed in all buildings. Saving the environment has turned into a now-or-never battle,” said Agrahari, a resident of Purulia district, about 300km from Kolkata.
He has not been able to get any of his friends at PU to join him in his mission. Some have inquired about his objectives while others dissuaded him, arguing that he should not neglect his studies in the final year of college.
“It’s very sad to see that people do not think of the dark future coming in,” said Agrahari, who is determined to continue, even if he is all by himself.
The campus is generally safe with security guards on duty round the clock, but mosquitoes aren’t kind to him. “They bite me throughout the night but I have started caring less,” he said.
Activism is part and parcel of Agrahari’s life. He was one of the students who took part in a prolonged agitation demanding timely renovation of a hostel for students and fasted for 10 days.
According to Rimjhim Sinha, a second-year post-graduate student of sociology at PU, there are three reasons why Agrahari is fighting alone.
“He is not associated with influential students’ organisations, he has chosen to demonstrate at night and the people are yet to take the issue of the environment seriously,” she said.
Since there is no one to witness his protest and know of his demands, he posts photos on social media.
PU registrar Debajyoti Konar said he was aware of Agrahari’s demonstration.
“The dean of students affairs has informed me that he has taken initiative for awareness on a ‘plastic-free’ campus,” Konar said adding PU authorities were already working on the issues Agrahari has raised.
“The university has already asked the public works department to start work on solar power in the campus taking heritage norms in consideration. It has also installed a rainwater harvesting system in Baker Building under a project of the geography department,” Konar said.
Agrahari, however, has no plan to quit yet.
“I want rainwater harvesting facilities in all buildings and a campus completely free of plastic. I understand that we are living in a do-or-die situation with regard to protecting the environment,” he said.
First Published: Aug 28, 2019 09:15 IST