Students protest against minister, boycott convocation

Mumbai: Nearly 30 graduating students of the prestigious Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) protested against Union Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh here over the proposed nuclear power projects in the country and boycotted their annual convocation ceremony where the minister was the chief guest.

The students – some carrying placards, others sporting yellow-and-black t-shirts with anti-nuke slogans, several more sporting black bands – greeted the minister by raising slogans when he arrived at the TISS Deonar Campus to deliver the convocation address Wednesday afternoon. At least 600 students attended the graduation ceremony.

“We are protesting against the 9,900-MW Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project in Ratnagiri in Maharashtra and other mega-projects in Orissa and Jharkhand. Thousands of common people are being displaced or uprooted there,” said Pranab Doley, an organiser of the protest.

He said that since the student community is feeling strongly about these huge developmental projects, they decided to boycott their own convocation ceremony in which they would have been presented their coveted degree certificates at the hands of the minister.

“It is our own ceremony, organised for us. It is a once-in-a-lifetime occasion, but we decided to forfeit it in the larger interests of the people of the country,” Doley said.

Anticipating protests, the police had deployed tight security outside the venue, but the students were allowed to protest peacefully.

When some of them attempted to get too close to the minister, the security personnel stopped them, but the minister waved them away and interacted with the students.

Later, Jairam Ramesh went inside the auditorium for the convocation ceremony.

In his address, Jairam Ramesh said that urbanisation will add to the damage to our already polluted rivers and high growth will generate huge solid waste.

“Expanding urbanisation will add to the damage to our already polluted rivers – which are more sewers actually. High growth will generate huge solid waste that will have to be managed in a better fashion than we have done so far,” he said.

“A nine percent plus rate of growth, calculations based on past trend reveals, will require a seven percent rate of growth in electricity consumption,” he said.

“And past trends are not always reliable since it is well known that there is both considerable suppressed demand and a huge backlog of basic demand itself that has to be met,” he added.

After the function, the students submitted a memorandum to the minister and also quizzed him on the various controversial projects coming up around the country. (IANS)