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IITians' biggest concern? Cows in the campus

After leopards, students of IIT-Bombay now face a cattle menace in their campus. While cows and bullocks frequently encroach upon footpaths, playgrounds and labs, college authorities admit that all they can do is implement basic safety measures.

The sprawling IIT-Bombay campus at Powai is home to some of the most intelligent students of the country. But, it’s also a haven for cattle. Over time, these animals have encroached upon footpaths, playgrounds as well as various buildings within the campus.

Cows and bulls

“We often notice cattle inside the college lobby. Had there been no stairs or doors to the classrooms, these animals would have entered our classrooms as well,” said a second year student on condition of anonymity. He added that some of his seniors had once spotted a cow inside a laboratory. The students had to shoo it away to avoid damage to the laboratory equipment.

cow
Cattle often find their way into laboratories at IIT-Bombay. Pics/Prashant Waydane

Security threat
IIT-B students have often highlighted the need for better security at the boundaries of the campus to control the ‘animal kingdom’, but all attempts by the college authorities have failed. In 2013, Insight, the institute’s in-house magazine, conducted an online poll, which revealed that the students were concerned about security issues on campus. While most of them demanded better lighting within the institute’s premises and security for female students, a majority of the respondents also revealed their discomfort regarding the stray animals such as cows, bulls, dogs as well as monkeys roaming about the campus. Apart from these, snakes, crocodiles and leopards have also been spotted in the vicinity.

cattle in lobby
A poll conducted by the campus magazine revealed that students are most concerned about unmanned animals, such as cows and bulls, in the premises 

“The menace of stray dogs had reached such a level that students had to request authorities to eliminate the four-legged creatures from the hostel premises at night. However, a small group of students refused to back up this request and insisted that dogs should be around to protect them from leopards. So, nothing could be done about them,” said 21-yr-old Kanishk Soni, an electrical engineering student of IIT-Bombay.

UA Yajnik, dean of student affairs agreed that the cattle menace has been an issue inside the college campus for sometime now, but very little can be done to get rid of them. “The cattle has been on this campus much before the students arrived here. Their number has increased to such an extent that it seems difficult to completely get rid of them. Over a period of time we realised that they don’t belong to anyone and roam around the campus all day,” he said.

Making peace
Over the last few months, after the menace of the cattle increased, gates were built outside most buildings inside the campus to ensure that the animals don’t enter the premises. “We received complaints from students who got embroiled in fights among the animals (dogs, bulls, monkeys). There were also instances where people were hurt. We have taken basic safety measures but there is no fool proof method that can be implemented to ward them off,” Yajnik added.

After much trial and error on the management’s part to solve this problem, very little has changed and students are now finally open to sharing their space with the animals. “As long as they don’t harm us, we don’t see any problem in co-existing with them in this beautiful campus,” added Soni.

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