Hyderabad: The Telangana High Court on Wednesday directed the state government against cutting down 1300 trees in Kasu Brahmananda Reddy (KBR) national park and asked them to furnish details about the trees which have already been chopped down so far.
Responding to the petition filed by city-based activists, the division bench directed the government, the Union Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, and Chief Wildlife Warden of the state forest department to not cut trees until the court pronounced further orders.
According to a report by the Indian Express, the state government proposed to develop six junctions by building flyovers around KBR park in 2015 which required the cutting down of more than 1300 trees for widening the roads. As a part of the same Strategic Road Development Plan (SRDP), it has proposed modification of the ESZ and finalized reduction of the park’s walkway to between 3 and 29.8 meters from the present 25 to 35 meters from its boundary.
In 2020, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests ratified the state government’s proposal to reduce the width of the walkway while the Expert Committee of the ministry had sought a detailed report after conducting a public hearing over the draft notification. However, environmental activists have alleged that there was no public hearing on the same.
The petitioner’s counsel Ritwick Dutta argued that the first original draft notification for the KBR Park provided an area of 25-35 m as ESZ. This was later reduced to almost 3 m to 29.8 m to accommodate the SRDP. The whole purpose of having an ESZ as a shock absorber is defeated, he said.
The division bench consisting of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy asked officials to exercise absolute restraint and follow the directives of the court. The petitioners were also asked to come up with suggestions on how; if at all the 1300 trees would be substituted. The defendants were asked to substantiate further by the next affidavit.