On Monday, citizens gathered outside Hyderabad's Kasu Brahmananda Reddy Park, popular as KBR Park, to ask the government not to go ahead with a proposed Rs 19,000 crore Strategic Road Development Plan. It involves multilayer flyovers which are meant to ease road traffic, but will mean sacrificing more than 2,000 fully grown trees inside the national park.
Citizen-turned-activist Gautam Vir says it is shocking that the government does not want an Environment impact Assessment study before destroying the eco-sensitive zone. "The 390-acre national park in the heart of the city that acts like a carbon sink, a water sink. We simply can't let that disappear,'' he said.
Siddharth Maheswari, who moved from Delhi to Hyderabad 12 years ago, said he fell in love with the park. "Delhi has the largest number of flyovers but that has not solved the traffic problem. We need trees forever for our health and for our children,'' he said.
Activists point out that trees keep the city temperature down. They say at 2.5 per cent, Hyderabad has one of the lowest green covers for any city in the country. Even Delhi and Bengaluru are at 10 and 15 per cent.
The state government is convinced that the project is necessary to cope with the huge amount of traffic.
The state government says they could consider translocating the big trees elsewhere or create a green belt elsewhere.
Environment activists say it is not a workable idea. "The haritha haaram project of the government has not really turned the state green,'' they ask.
Under the banner of Hyderabad Rising, the citizens also went to the National Green Tribunal, which referred it to the Union environment ministry.
Prof Purushottam Reddy says though elections are less than two years away, this could be an election issue. "The government has to listen to the voices of the people. After all, they have only been given time on lease to govern,'' he said.
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