The Telangana State Board for Wild Life cleared the state government's Strategic Road Development Project (SRDP) on Saturday, which included the construction of six multi-level flyovers, near KBR National Park in Hyderabad.
The meeting was headed by the state's Minister for Environment and Forests Jogu Ramanna, and the proposal will be forwarded to the National Board for Wild Life (NBWL) which is scheduled to meet in Delhi on July 29, The Hindu reported.
The report also quotes members of the board stating that the state would have to approach the NBWL, if the flyovers fall within the Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) around KBR park.
Eco-Sensitive Zones or ESZs are areas notified by the Centre, to ensure a 'buffer zone' around an ecologically sensitive zone like a national park, to ensure that the areas inside the zone are protected.
This ensures that no disruptive measures like construction activity or demolitions can take place around the zone.
Under the SRDP, the state plans to construct multi-layer flyovers over 20 key junctions in the city. One of the flyovers would require trees to be axed at KBR Park.
This decision has resulted in the state facing flak from citizens and activists.
However, dismissing the concern voiced by citizens, Jogu Ramanna told media persons, â€śThere will be no threat to KBR Park or environment on account of SRDP as being claimed by some quarters. In fact, the pollution levels will come down after these flyovers are built due to lower carbon emissions on account of vehicles. We are confident of the Centre approving the decision taken by us."
In another controversial move, the officials decided on Saturday, to revise the ECZ of the national park, between three and 26 metres.
â€śKeeping in mind the concerns of people and the interest of the national park, it has been decided the ESZ will be fixed between three and 28 metres. Once the MoEF agrees with our proposal, we will make it official. Subsequently, the Strategic Road Development Plan (SRDP) can be implemented,â€ś said a senior GHMC official told the Times of India.
Ironically, activists pointed out earlier this year, that Telangana had sent a proposal in December 2015, to declare the KBR park walkway an eco-sensitive zone.
However, the state's own Principal Chief Conservator of Forests filed an objection in May 2016, stating that the area of the ESZ should be reduced, to accommodate the SRDP.
Following a PIL filed in the Hyderabad High Court, the court told the state that "cutting trees is no solution."
The NGT too directed the Telangana government to maintain status quo around KBR park while staying a government order (GO 19) that granted â€śpermission to fell treesâ€ť citing â€śease of doing businessâ€ť.
Presently, the state is going ahead with its other construction works which were part of the SRDP. It also said that it is translocating some trees instead of axing them for the project.
The latest decision by the state, can also be challenged in courts, and with the NGT.