HYDERABAD: Activists of Hyderabad are calling on other citizens to join them for a public meeting to be held at Kasu Brahmananda Reddy (KBR) National Park in Jubilee Hills at 9 AM on Sunday, December 20 to raise awareness regarding the #SaveKBR campaign. A notification that proposes to reduce the Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) by constructing six flyovers around the park has been issued without a public hearing. This could lead to the destruction of more than 1000 trees and severely damage the water catchment and biodiversity.
This isn’t the first time that this issue has made headlines. As reported by The Siasat.com, the proposal made as part of the State Government’s Strategic Road Development Plan (SRDP) to develop six junctions for the construction of multi-level flyovers was challenged by citizen activists of Hyderabad back in 2017 citing The National Green Tribunal’s judgment dated 24.05.2017.
The Tribunal observed that the ESZ is declared by the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MoEFCC) and any work concerning the SRDP project cannot commence near the KBR National Park. In 2018, a draft notification was released proposing a reduction walkway around the park from 25-35 metres to a mere 3 metres. A sixty day time was given for people to raise objections. People across Hyderabad protested in large numbers.
All industrial, infrastructure projects which are divided into categories 1, 2 &3 Environment Impact Assessment Notification 2006 are mandated to get some environmental clearances. For different categories, there are different levels of clearances one should get.
For category 1, the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change, on recommendations from a committee called Expert Appraisal Committee [EAC], will decide on giving a clearance. And for Category 2, a clearance from the State Level Committee is mandatory and sufficient. One of the stages of this clearance is that public consultations are to be conducted and then the report of such consultations and all the relevant information about the project will be sent to the EAC.
In the case of KBR park, the state government released a draft notification that wasn’t approved by the MoEFCC and did not possess any executive power.
Even upon direction from the ministry to conduct a mandatory public hearing, no such hearing was conducted. In addition to that, the ministry gave its approval despite not following a major procedure.
A notification was released in November this year, confirming the same. The New Indian Express reported that the environmental activists in the city are considering legal action.
Several activists have also taken to Twitter to call for citizens to take part in the #SaveKBR campaign. Citizens For Hyderabad, a voluntary movement started by the people of Hyderabad to save the environment has been actively working to raise awareness regarding the issue.
Some of the tweets: