Destruction is our Second Nature

Soumen Chakrabarti

Wildlife around IIT Bombay

There are many Websites with excellent pictures of the wildlife around IIT Bombay. From every window of my apartment, we can see kites, parrots, bluejays, drongos, magpies, and sparrows.

The kites are majestic. The parrots are very talkative and sociable (with other parrots, not humans---for good reason, read on).

"Keep campus clean and green"

But IIT is for humans, not animals! "Uncontrolled" vegetation makes the place look unkempt, and harbors anything from mosquitoes to panthers. Apart from wholesale removal of undergrowth, hastening the demise of large trees has been developed into a fine art around here. I discuss the algorithm in detail.


In Microsoft Flight Simulator and Harry Potter movies, solid objects like aircraft and people can slide effortlessly through other solid objects like buildings and walls.

Around here, trees and concrete pass through each other and share space effortlessly, as shown above. However, the concrete has the better of the exchange, because it does not need air and water. Meanwhile, the tree roots are deprived of quite some fraction of the water accessible to its roots earlier, because several feet in all direction are paved up and deprived of rain water.


The goal is to damage the root system of large trees in apparently innocuous ways.

In the first picture above, the tree first got paved over to the left right up to its trunk. Then, someone said, oops, we forgot to put in that last cable. So they dug up both sides of the trunk, slashing through the upper roots and buttress, leaving the tree to balance itself on a strip of soil only two feet wide. In the second picture, they are going to build a wall within a foot of the trunk, so they slash down vertically within a foot of the trunk, making a section through the roots on this side, to make a foundation.

In the picture above they are digging the foundation of a house within two feet of the trunk. Instead of killing the tree quickly and mercifully, they will slash right down the sides. The claim here is "We did not kill the tree, if keeled over on its own"...

Once the tree keels over, ship out

...which it obligingly does, having essentially no surviving root support after the doctor is done.

Once a tree falls or dies standing, hoardes descend on it, hack away, and leave with truckloads of timber.

It would be fashionable to finish with "posterity will never forgive the people responsible for this mayhem" but the reality is, posterity will be too busy wheezing and gasping for breath to worry about assigning blame.

DSC00760.JPG DSC00761.JPG DSC00762.JPG DSC00763.JPG DSC00765.JPG DSC00766.JPG. Some of these are legally approved, it seems.