The latest move comes even as the Telangana government is seeking to go ahead with its plan to construct multi-layer flyovers around the park.

Trees axed in Hyderabads KBR Park activists allege contempt of court
news Environment Thursday, December 20, 2018 - 13:38

Activists in Hyderabad are up in arms after at least 10 trees were axed down in the Kasu Brahmananda Reddy (KBR) National Park in the heart of the city, allegedly by officials of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC).

In a video posted online by Citizens for Hyderabad, the person behind the camera is seen picking up saw dust from the trunks which were cut along the park’s walkway, to indicate that the trees were freshly chopped.

What has especially infuriated citizens is that the latest move comes even as the Telangana government is seeking to go ahead with its Strategic Road Development Plan (SRDP) to construct multi-layer flyovers around the city’s largest lung space.

Speaking to TNM, Kaajal Maheshwari from the citizen group says, “We could spot at least 10 to 12 trees in the darkness on Wednesday evening, we are sure more trees were chopped down. We were notified by some joggers, who noticed the trunks in the evening.”

“When some members of the media called the GHMC Commissioner, he first said that they had only undertaken pruning work as the branches were obstructing traffic, but later said that the trees were cut as they had gone dry,” she added.

As part of the SRDP, six junctions are to be developed at various locations, including KBR Park entrance, Jubilee Hills Checkpost, Film Nagar junction, Jubilee Hills Road No. 45, Maharaja Agrasen junction (Banjara Hills Road No. 12) and Cancer Hospital junction (Banjara Hills Road No. 10).

However, this would result in a drastic ‘shrinking’ of the walkway, which is part of the Eco Sensitive Zone (ESZ) of the national park. Since it was proposed, activists moved the Hyderabad High Court and the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and managed to get a stay order on work being carried out at the park.

They now allege that the GHMC has violated those orders and gone ahead with their plan to axe the trees in order for the state government to shrink the walkway.

“It is a clear contempt of court. It also raises a lot of questions. There is no need to prune the trees as they are quite far from the road. If the trees had indeed dried up, why did they dry up? Was the GHMC not maintaining them? Sometimes, trees do dry up in winter. Does that mean we cut them?” Kaajal asked.

Citizens have now planned a rally at the park’s main entrance on December 23 at 8 am.

“We will also express our condolences to the trees to show the Ministry of Environment, Forest (MoEF) that these trees do matter to us,” Kaajal said.  

While GHMC officials admitted that they had pruned some trees as part of regular maintenance, they said that they were not involved in cutting down the trees.

“We did cut some tree branches outside KBR park, which were jutting out on the main road. On the main road, the carriageway should be at least four to five metres for safe movement of vehicles, otherwise some heavy vehicles will hit these branches and it can be catastrophic for public safety,” Khairatabad Zonal Commissioner Musharaf Ali told TNM.   

Speaking to TNM, Venkateshwara Colony GHMC corporator Kavitha Reddy Manne, under whose jurisdiction the park falls, said, “I do not have any information about the incident. I will speak to the Forest Department, as they also have control over the trees in the area.”

Earlier this week, activists in Hyderabad also started an online petition to ‘Save KBR Park’ as a 60-day period to raise objections with the MoEF against the axing of trees in the walkway is set to end soon. 

 

Read: 'Six flyovers around KBR park will destroy it': Hyd citizens start online petition

 

 

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