Over 1,800 trees located in an Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) are scheduled to be chopped down in Telangana’s Shamshabad, on the outskirts of Hyderabad, to pave way for the laying of overhead power transmission lines by the transmission corporation of Telangana (TRANSCO). According to a report in The New Indian Express, the Telangana government has cleared the proposal to chop down the trees, which fall under the Chilkur forest and are a part of the Mrugavani National Park. Though the ESZ of the national park is not defined, the forest department considers areas under 10 km radius of the park as the default ESZ.
The proposal to cut the trees was discussed at a meeting held last month. The meeting was convened by the Regional Empowered Committee, Chennai, of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests. The New Indian Express has accessed the minutes of the meeting. The power lines will be laid from Kethireddipalli to TSPA Junction at the cost of Rs 176 crore and seven hectares of land will need to be cleared for the project. However, the loss of green area will be compensated for, and afforestation will be carried out on an area of 13 hectares under the Mamidipally reserved forest at Gaganpahad, TNIE reported. The proposal was reportedly okayed in a meeting by an Eco-Sensitive Zone committee meeting held in February.
Justifying the move, the Forest Department told New Indian Express that as per TRANSCO, any other alternative route for laying power lines would require clearance of a larger forest area.
The Chilkur forest block which has now been approved was originally spread over 490 hectares, and of this 360 hectares falls under the Mrugavani National Park. The remaining 18 hectares had already been used in 2007 for building the Outer Ring Road, TNIE reported.
The area where the trees will be cleared is part of a green area in the outskirts of the city. The area is located close to the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Shamshabad.