Authorities in Hyderabad seem to making one misstep after the other on the green front. Even as the government was criticised by the High Court for planning to cut down nearly 2000 trees in KBR Park for building flyovers, another controversy has arisen about the bulldozing of trees on the campus of the University of Hyderabad.
The irony of the episode began with the realisation that scores of trees had been bulldozed to create space for planting 1.25 lakh saplings under Haritha Haram, the Telangana government’s flagship tree-planting programme. The episode has taken on a further twist with allegations from students that a number of Jammi Chettus, the official tree of Telangana had been felled during the clearing process.
“How can the authorities uproot a state symbol? Uprooting of trees to plant new saplings makes no sense whatsoever and I don’t understand what the authorities are thinking,” J Ravi, a student at the University was quoted as saying by The New Indian Express.
The university authorities have been claiming that no trees have been uprooted in the clearing drive, which was aimed at only removing thorny bushes from the area, and that all clearing is being conducted only after all the necessary permissions have been obtained.
However, a report in The Times of India stated, “Some officials though have admitted to mowing down 10 to 15 trees 'unintentionally' for preparing 100 acres for puja.”
Swargam Srinivas, director of the urban forestry wing of the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority, told TNIE that permission had only been given for removing thorny bushes and no trees were to be affected. “If those trees are uprooted, then action will be taken by the forest department.”
The University’s move has come in for criticism from environmentalists who say that the planting of a large number of new saplings will not compensate the effect on the biodiversity of the area.
"Biodiversity builds up over a long period of time. It takes 50 to 70 years for a forest to develop and no matter how many saplings are planted, we will never reach back to the amount of biodiversity that was present at the site," environmentalist Captain J Rama Rao told TOI.