HYDERABAD: A massive fire that engulfed over 11 acres of University of Hyderabad (UoH) campus on Tuesday charred two snakes and fawn to death. It started from a dumping yard near the ladies’ hostel no. 9 reducing vast stretches of green cover to ashes. A python too suffered serious burns.
“We were able to rescue a severely injured python and shifted it to Nehru Zoological Park hospital. We also noticed marks that suggested a huge python escaped from the site, possibly with injuries. The python undergoing treatment lost its eyes. Its lower jaw bones were completely damaged. The skin, too, has melted away,” said Ravi Jillapalli, founder of Wild Lens, an in-house group working on animal safety.
The varsity’s sprawling premises is home to over 200 species of birds (including peacocks), spotted deer, hare, rabbits, wild boars, monitor lizards, and mongoose.
UoH students & varsity officials in blame game over the cause of the fire
While students attributed the mishap to the burning of dry grass and criticised the authorities for failing to take precautionary measures (multiple fires were reported in the past), varsity officials squarely blamed the students.
“On New Year Eve, students lit a bonfire and partied. They did not put out the fire, and it spread. By 11am on Tuesday, huge swathes of green cover vanished. As there was not much smoke, none noticed it till afternoon. When the matter came to our notice, we called for water tankers from the horticulture department. Later, firemen also reached the spot,” said L Vijay Kumar, chief security officer, UoH. He, however, said the administration will take up the matter with the body responsible for fire safety on campus.
“Agile Security Group, which takes care of security, is also responsible for fire safety, as per an agreement. They should have had fire safety equipment on campus, which they didn’t. We have written a letter to them seeking an explanation. Appropriate action will be initiated subsequently,” Kumar said.
Students, on their part, said the varsity has no fire tenders. “Every year, we witness at least five fire accidents. Yet, the university is least bothered. Huge biodiversity is lost in accidents. Despite repeated requests, the varsity has still not procured fire tenders and always waits for the fire service department to come to their help. Delays cause more damage,” said Venu R, an MA (linguistics) student.
Forest officials, too, blamed UoH administration and expressed concern over the recurring accidents.
“Time and again these mishaps are reported on campus. The university seems unperturbed. After a thorough inquiry, we will write a strong letter to UoH asking them to take suitable action,” said A Shankaran, a senior fire department official.
Not just fire, several animals inhabiting the campus in the past have been lost to stray dog attacks, poaching, and rising pollution.
About 150 spotted deer and more than 200 peacocks have been killed in the past three years. More than 150 wild boars-, too, died in the same period, said, students.