Sustainable Development Practice
Assam Don Bosco University
Sustainable Development Practice
Sustainable Development Goals
The Sustainable Development Practice of Don Bosco University is focused on ‘Creating and Sustaining an Eco-Friendly Campus with clear cut goals and priorities in the management of water resources, energy sources and consumption, preservation of flora and fauna, conservation of eco systems and wildlife, and productive use of the land’.
Objectives of the Practice
The objectives of this initiative are:
- Creating for the university community an ambiance and learning environment that advances a civil and sustainable society.
- Ensuring the conservation of biological diversity and the protection of this eco-sensitive area by adopting sound and sustainable development.
- Ensuring an institute wide commitment to adoption of renewable energy.
- Encouraging the university community to pilot and promote sustainable solutions through teaching, research and extension activities that tackle live issues of the campus and its adjacent communities.
- Promoting and protecting the natural and semi natural habitat of existing species in the campus to ensure their survival and growth.
- Harnessing the traditional knowledge and practices of local communities and involving them in the conservation and sustainable use of these resources.
The Context of the Sustainable Development Practice at Don Bosco University
The contextual features or challenging issues which needed to be addressed in designing and implementing this practice were:
- Accessibility: The hilly terrain of the campus came in the way of creating spaces for academic, residential and recreational areas that blended in with the natural landscape while being also accessible and eco-friendly.
- Storm Water Management: On a few occasions, every year, the existing archaic drainage management of the existing Tea Plantation in the campus created a major impediment.
- Management of wildlife in the campus: The campus is home to a number of barking deer, troops of Golden Langurs and Capuchin monkeys, a critically endangered variety of Day Gecko, a family of Pythons, several varieties of snakes including the gliding viper (Sri Lanka gliding snake), several varieties of birds (parrots, herons, wood pigeons among them), hordes of wild bees, and a herd of wild elephants.
- Security issues: A campus covering 274 acres with a lot of dense forest cover called for an effective yet unobtrusive security plan.
Uniqueness of the Practice
The uniqueness of Don Bosco University Campus is that it demonstrates respect for environment and stewardship of natural resources while ensuring the quality of life on the campus. The Master Plan of the University has been designed to ensure and sustain a harmonious blend of human and environmental well-being.
The University has undertaken various initiatives to setting up an Eco-Friendly campus:
- Agroforestry and conservation of biodiversity: In its endeavour for conservation of healthy ecosystems, the University has embarked on a plantation drive spread over 190 acres of its campus. The variegated cropping of tea, coconut, rubber, cocoa, cashew-nut, agar, cocoa, ginger and turmeric have been established as livelihood projects within the scope of demonstration farms and seed gardens to demonstrate and promote scientific research in crop development and inter-cropping. Once they start yielding, the university will promote such plantations in the villages and facilitate Farmers’ Cooperatives providing them with the managerial and marketing expertise needed for their success. Marginal strips of unused land at the Campus are used for a small kitchen garden, and for planting bananas and papayas.
- Grid connected roof top solar photo voltaic power projects: The University has embarked upon roof-top solar installations at its campuses with an installed capacity of 320 Kilowatts. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has also been signed with North-East Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) to set up a solar farm in the campus to generate 2 Megawatts of electricity for domestic consumption and to feed the surplus to the national grid.
- Water conservation and supply management: The University has invested enormous resources to ensure sustainable water management and use. a) It has created a major reservoir, spread over 10 acres, with an average depth of 30 feet, by tapping a small stream passing through the campus and the many natural springs in the adjoining creeks. b) It has created five minor reservoirs, each of an acre or more in area and 15 to 20 feet in depth, by the creation of bandhs around existing permanent springs. c) While the reservoirs help in water harvesting, storm water management and replenishment of the ground water table, the university has also invested in five deep-bore wells to supply drinking water through a network of three water tanks with a capacity to store 7,00,000 litres at a time. d) The master plan of the campus provides for three more check dams to ensure that the water resources in the campus are well controlled, managed and utilised.
Evidence of Success of the Sustainable Development Practice
Success in the creation of an Eco-Friendly University Campus is seen in the following:
- The plantations and their maintenance:
A very hilly terrain has been tackled for the plantations mentioned above, and great care if taken for their systematic maintenance and robust growth. Whatever plants have been destroyed by elephants and monkeys have been promptly replaced. Research is being done by several students in the areas of tissue-culture, pest resistance, seed production and medical properties.
- Grid connected roof top solar photo voltaic power project:
The 160 kilowatt project is operational at the campus. The mega project to produce 2 Megawatts is awaiting final approval by NEEPCO.
- Waste management:
The pilot project to transform solid waste into harmless landfill material is operational for a year now, and will be scaled up shortly. The production and use of organic fertiliser from vermicomposting is operational for the last two years. The collection of food waste from the food-courts and kitchens has been outsourced to benefit a nearby pig farm. All dead wood and seasonal trimming of trees in the tea garden are distributed to the labourers and nearby institutions for fuel.
- Water conservation and supply management:
Effective use of earthen bundhs and check dams have ensured zero damage by storm water flooding. The minor and major reservoirs have ensured efficient water harvesting and water distribution. One large fishery has been developed and others are in the making. Plans are ready for installing a micro-hydel plant to produce 15 to 20 kilowatts of electricity. The power will power the street lights at night, and pumps and fountains to oxygenate the reservoirs and water storage tanks during the day.
- Wildlife management:
To allow for the unhindered movement of elephants and other animals inside the campus, and their access to water and foliage, only boundary pillars are used to demarcate the land of the University – no walls or fences. No one is allowed to hunt or harm animals and birds in the campus. Faculty and students are working on a project to map the flora and fauna in the campus to study and minimise the impact on wildlife and vegetation.
Problems Encountered and Resources required in implementation of the Sustainable Development Practice
While the opportunities to explore eco-friendly possibilities are evident, actions devoted to conservation for a green campus are expensive.
- Building of check dams needed expert advice and investment of resources. But once created, they have greatly reduced the destructive power of flooding and storm water surges. They have also created welcome spaces for relaxation and sports for the campus community.
- Selection and preparation of locations for academic and residential buildings called for expertise in soil erosion management, drainage, placement of retaining walls and plans for proper landscaping. Though such attention to detail cost a lot of resources, the net result has been buildings that blend into the landscape and a network of drains and walls that effectively control all erosion.
- Systematic planting of trees, bushes and vetiver grass to stabilise slopes and embankments were expensive but fruitful.
Recommendation for adopting/ implementing the Best Practice in other institutions
This practice can be implemented by any educational institution, especially in those with rather large campuses. Of paramount importance in this project are the following:
- Introducing into the vision of the university a clear mandate to bring about social change as one of its key objectives.
- Designing a comprehensive master plan for the campus to avoid haphazard developments and constructions, and to insert eco-consciousness into every aspect of the University’s life.
- Ensuring the involvement of faculty and students in the planning and implementation of an eco-friendly campus to bring about attitudinal changes that translate into social impact as they in turn enrich their own communities.
Contact Assam Don Bosco University