In December of 1989, an international pharma conference and exhibition was held on campus. The organisers went on a rampage – wanton felling of trees and burning of undergrowth – to provide parking space for the participants. Anguished by this, some students photographed the massacre and put up posters all over the campus. The next day, a spontaneous morcha originated in one of the hostels. More students joined it along the way and about a hundred students, carrying these posters, marched silently into and out of the Convo during the inauguration of the conference.
This shook up the institute authorities and the organisers and some attempts were made to remedy the situation. However, these were merely cosmetic. The rapid degradation of the campus environment and apathy of the institute gave birth to an independent student newsletter, The Drongo.
In its first issue, published in April 1990, it said:
“This newsletter attempts to gather like-minded people into a cohesive group, which will analyse our current situation and suggest practical solutions. It attempts to serve as a watchdog, which informs the campusites of ongoing developments/degradations. We also aim to create issues (yes, they have to be created) which, in turn, may galvanise the administration into action.”
The following article Tree Plantation on Vihar Hill, from the first issue of The Drongo, describes the efforts of a group of students who planted many trees on the hill behind H3-H4. While the institute authorities were smug with photo-ops at Vanmahostavs, this group not only planted saplings but watered them and cared for them throughout the year. In the next 2-3 years, more than 1,000 saplings were planted. The project was very popular and every evening you would find students lugging water up the hill to water their favourite patch. In spite of the grazing and frequent fires, many saplings survived to become healthy trees.