A professor from Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Pune, one of the most premier research institutes in the country, has resigned from the institute alleging illegal construction, tree felling and sewage dumping activities going on in the campus. The professor, Milind Watve, resigned from his position on his 61st birthday and wrote a facebook post regarding his allegations. Here is the post:
The day I complete 61,
I am making public
an important decision.
I have resigned from IISER, Pune and will be leaving soon. The resignation decision is because of multiple reasons.
Last year about this time, the Director constituted a landscape committee for IISER Pune campus and I was asked to chair it. While studying the landscape of IISER in greater details, I started seeing things differently and realizing many things. A number of illegal and anti-environmental acts had been and were being committed on the campus including tree felling without proper permission procedure; releasing untreated sewage in spite of having a sewage treatment plant and giving fabricated false sewage quality reports of near zero BOD all the time. The entire land was gradually being concretized indiscriminately and unnecessarily. As long as I was not involved, although I (shared by many others) felt bad about the unnecessary tree cutting, I used to think that somehow they manage to get permissions. Only after I chaired the landscape committee I started looking at facts and discovered that none of the legal procedures were followed. When challenged, they actually started denying that any trees were ever cut on the campus. But see the accompanying satellite images for the truth. This is only a partial picture of the total destruction.
I raised these issues repeatedly within the institute but no action was taken. Then all of a sudden I was charged with being involved in or supporting some other illegal act and within 48 hours an inquiry committee was set up. The committee appears to have tried its best but did not find any evidence and in its conclusions did not say that I was guilty. Still I was removed from the landscape committee. The contrast between the reluctance to act against the true anti-environmental and illegal campus activities for over a year and making haste at the slightest opportunity to book me is a clear indication of who actually runs IISER. It was clear to me that I should not waste my time anymore being in this system. I don’t have the moral right to carry out biodiversity, ecology and conservation research in such an institute. But as a citizen of India, I can do a lot more.
There is a personal side to this story. In partial compensation of the tree felling, I proposed to develop a mini-arboretum of endemic and endangered tree species on the remaining un-concretized IISER campus, and the proposal was approved. Inspired and helped by Dr Yadav and his team of Shivaji University, also getting Moha germplasm diversity from BAIF, and exploring many other sources of RET species, we started working with full devotion. I had little background knowledge of tree species diversity, but I started studying it and very soon it became such a deep rooted passion for me that now if I am prevented from shaping the campus arboretum, I see no point in existing on the campus. I hope I will still be able to pursue this passion elsewhere.
So good bye IISER, Pune!
This is a matter of principles and my struggle is with the system. I am not personally against anyone and have not made any personal accusations. Also my resignation is completely voluntary and I am under no pressure to resign.
After several attempts from Indie Journal, IISER authorities remained unreachable for a quote.
Edit 7:13 PM, December 12 : IISER issued a statement regarding allegations made by Professor Watve, the statement rubbishes the allegations. The statement, is as follows.
IISER Pune’s Response to the Facebook Post made by Prof. Milind Watve on Dec 11, 2018
The allegations made by Prof. Watve are inaccurate and baseless. The landscape committee was constituted in November 2017 with Prof. Watve as the chairperson with the goal of increasing the vegetation cover on the IISER Pune campus, and maintaining and protecting the existing green cover. The allegations made by Prof. Watve were raised, not while he was the chairperson, but after he expressed the intent to resign from the Institute.
One of the mandates of the landscape committee is to increase the tree cover and a plan has been underway for large scale plantation across the campus. Over the last year, ~1000 trees have already been planted on campus. IISER Pune is committed to promoting the green cover on the campus. The Institute is unaware of any illegal tree felling on campus, and does not release any untreated sewage.
Due to complaints of improprieties against the external landscaping contractor, an institutional inquiry committee was appointed. This committee was asked to investigate the roles of the contractor and the landscape consultant in these irregularities. It recommended the termination of the current landscaping contract. It also recommended discontinuation of the consultant.