Hyderabad: More than 500 people, including residents, environmentalists, and activists in Hyderabad, gathered at Nallagandla to form a human chain on Sunday morning. The human chain was created to express dissent over the felling of a large number of trees along the Nallagandla-Tellapur road.
Recently, concerned authorities fell about 130 trees for a road expansion project, which outraged the residents. Reportedly, the chopped trees were 20-30 years old. Earlier, this week, hundreds of residents held a protest against the felling of trees.
The protestors consisted of several children who braved the heat to walk along the stretch shouting slogans. As a symbolic gesture, children tied a protective thread around the other trees marked for felling.
According to the residents, felling of trees started on November 8 under the supervision of a contractor appointed by Roads and Buildings Department (R&B). The R&B officials said that the axing is because of the proposed road-widening project.
People’s outrage and a few procedural lapses compelled the R&B Department to suspend the axing, as of now, said the residents. The Forest Department assured Save Nallagandla Trees (SNT) group that until residents are consulted and a consensus is reached, the axing would not be permitted.
SNT believe that there is a lack of local representation in the Tree Protection Committee (TPC). Besides, there is insufficient coordination between various concerned government departments.
Bharath Dantuluri, a member of SNT, said, “There is a lack of mechanisms in understanding priorities and providing comprehensive solutions, and authorities of various departments are avoiding accountability. Higher officials are passing policies that are undervaluing environmental concerns and neglecting their dangerous consequences.”
He added that they had discussed these concerns with the officials from the Forest department, TPC, and R&B. “We proposed that authorities must consult civil society, especially residents of Nallagandla-Tellapur stretch before initiating any development activity in the area. We believe that it’s not just an issue concerning Nallagandla. It relates to the broader developmental crisis affecting residential areas in Hyderabad, where urban green cover and lakes are making way for road widening and high-rise buildings.”
Kajal Maheshwari, from Save Nallagandla Trees, said, “We would like to appeal to the concerned citizens, experts and enthusiasts to contribute ideas and resources in exploring holistic solutions against tree felling in Nallagandla and elsewhere in Hyderabad.” She added they demand the government’s immediate attention to various issues plaguing the city such as shrinking groundwater, lack of public water lines, and damaged drainage systems leading to lake pollution.
Besides, Kajal notes that Hyderabad also goes through a host of other problems as well. Unregulated digging of roads and its pathetic condition commuters, absence of public toilets for migrant workers, and poor waste management and recycling are some of them. She urges the government to address many such problems before investing in infrastructure projects such as road widening by tree felling, which will lead to other consequences.