Mumbai University sells grass

Since 1972, a stretch of the varsity in Kalina is being used to grow grass, which is sold for about Rs 5 lakh per year

SUDHIR SURYAWANSHI AND RISHI MAJUMDER

Photographer:

little green men-aces

Other than Mumbai University’s controversial desire to be listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange, the supposedly non-profit organisation conceals on its campus another profitable enterprise — selling grass!
Since 1972, a 40-acre stretch of Mumbai University land in Kalina has been used to grow grass, which is sold for about Rs 5,00,000 on the basis of tenders.
University garden superintendent S Y Dalvi says a tender for the sale of grass is floated on a certain date (fixed every year), awarding the yearly contract to the highest bidder. Buyers have to deposit a minimum amount before harvesting the grass.
“Anyone can apply for this. The revenue generated is used for developmental purposes, especially to enhance the university gardens,” Dalvi explains.
There are 10 to 15 bidders each year for the university’s grass. A person who has a contract to purchase the grass this year says he has been paying Rs 63,000 per month
with a Rs 25,000 yearly deposit. On the competition among bidders every year for the fodder, he says, “It’s healthy competition, and the university makes money.”

‘LEAVE IT FOR SPORTS’
Rajesh Bhonkar, a second year MSc student and general secretary of the University Student Body, is incensed.
“More than selling grass for profit, the university should focus on enhancing facilities for students. They should have converted this land into a sports ground or garden for students to rejuvenate themselves in their free time,” he says.
The student council will discuss this in its forthcoming meeting and may decide to form a committee to oppose the university authorities using this land to grow and sell grass, Bhonkar says.

GRASS BREEDS MOSQUITOES
The grass patch also breeds mosquitoes, posing a health concern to residents of Government Quarters lining this land along the university boundary.
Says Kiran More, a resident of Building No 3 of the Government Quarters bordering
this land, “The mosquitoes breeding on this land are a menace. Earlier, the government used to spray insecticide there to control them, but that has stopped now.”
“The mosquitoes are there in my house, outside and even in the library I manage,” laments Rekha Bole, a librarian with the Government Quarters Residents’ Association.
However, Tamshetvar Lakshman, secretary of the association, says the mosquito menace could also arise from open drains in the nearby slums.
“Once the BMC started fumigating these areas, the mosquito menace decreased considerably,” he says.

VARSITY: WHAT’S WRONG?
A senior Mumbai University authority says selling grass has been a university tradition for many years.
“It was directed by the Vice Chancellor, so we have to follow it. If somebody has an objection, the issue will be taken up in our next meeting,” he states.
“Filling up the entire low-lying area for a playground or garden would be pretty expensive.”

Rajesh Bhonkar

More than selling grass for profit, the university should focus on enhancing facilities for students. They should have converted this land into a sports ground or garden for students to rejuvenate themselves in their free time
— Rajesh Bhonkar, a second year MSc student and general secretary of the University Student Body

Kiran More

Grass breeds mosquitoes and they have become a menace.The mosquitoes breeding on this land are a menace. Earlier, the govt used to spray insecticide there to control them, but that has stopped now
— Kiran More, a resident of a
building bordering the land

This article first appeared in Mumbai Mirror, Times Of India: http://alturl.com/iun4

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