Rains are failing Hyderabad but trees are falling aplenty, not by themselves but chopped off by various authorities on facile pleas. This, warn environmentalists, will further aggravate the urban ambience.
It is estimated that nearly 700 adult trees have been felled for road widening projects, Metro Rail and plain commercial interests since the year began. They could have replenished the reducing oxygen supply.
Kukatpally, Moosapet and Banjara Hills have all recorded incidents of tree-felling for various reasons, none of which seem serious enough to kill a tree. This is apart from the mindless chopping of tree branches by labourers contracted by electricity board.
On Monday, the posh Banjara Hills Road No. 12 was witness to cutting of three lush trees that must have taken half a century to come to this stature. As no one around had any idea why this was happening, Postnoon approached the Urban Forestry officials. The response was terse and shocking. Ch Venkataiah, deputy forest range officer of the Urban Forestry wing, remarked, “The trees on Road No. 12 caused problems to vehicular movement. Three accidents were reported because of the wayward growth of the trees. So we decided to chop them off.” The question as to why the trees were not trimmed but chopped off is left unanswered.
As an afterthought, Venkataiah added, “We have planted around 2,000 saplings in the Banjara Hills area to counter the number of trees being chopped,” says Venkataiah. Has it anything to do with the timber business, we ask. Deputy municipal commissioner T Sakala Reddy says, “Once chopped, the timber is pretty useless. Nobody uses it as firewood anymore.”
Elsewhere, the Moosapet-Kukatpally stretch has been witness to rampant tree-felling. This was done to make way for the Metro Rail works that are about to begin there. Chopped tree logs and wood chips are strewn across the road with no regard for commuter safety. When approached, forest section officer of Kukatpally circle L Sainath Reddy said, “The Kukatpally circle comes under the Medchal division, which is under the purview of the AP Forest Department.” The divisional forest officer of the AP Forest Department, Nagabhushanam, was unavailable for comment.
So far, there have been over 700 recorded tree-felling incidents in the City, especially in the Kukatpally circle. Officials claim to have relocated these trees and replanted them to compensate for the green cover loss. However, the proof of it is yet to be made public. As the City waits for rains, one wonders if we really deserve the monsoon showers when the dying green cover of the City seems to indicate otherwise.
Environmental activist Jaya Prakash is not surprised by the wanton tree-felling. “The value of trees is not clear to our authorities. The trend is to chop down trees way below the required limit of two feet. June and July are plantation periods and the Forest Department or the Urban Forestry division should announce guidelines on tree plantation. What is the use of building eco tourism parks when hundreds of trees are felled to make space for them Retaining forest cover within the City is of utmost importance,” adds Jaya.
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