The Hyderabad Metro Rail (HMR) wants to get rid of more than 320 trees to make way for multi-level parking facilities in the heart of the city. Worrying environmentalists said it will only increase air pollution and rob locals of little lung space in the city.
The HMR authorities have sought permission for the removal of 328 trees and an application has been filed with the Andhra Pradesh forest department to remove or relocate 105 trees in Punjagutta, 160 trees in Errummanzil Colony, 18 trees near Hi-Tec City in Madhapur and 45 trees in Balanagar. The Tree Protection Committee (TPC), which met on November 15, said it would inspect these sites on November 28 and take a final call on it.
According to metro officials, 25 locations have been identified in different parts of the city meant for multi- layered parking facilities with skywalks, lifts or escalators meant to channel between these parking spaces and metro stations.
Forest officials say that the decision would be taken as per the WALTA Act, 2002, which conserves and protects water bodies, ground water, trees and land. “We had an elaborate discussion on this issue and would be inspecting these sites soon. The removal of trees will only be allowed if it is necessary. If there are any ficus or other species in these sites which can be translocated, then we will allow,” D Nagabhushanam, the divisional forest officer, said on Tuesday.
“For every other tree removed, five new plants have to be planted which should grow to a minimum height of 1.5 metres and also should be of indigenous variety,” Nagabhushanam, member, TPC, said. Till now, around 4000 trees have been removed for the metro project. These trees were removed from Nagole, Mettuguda, Ameerpet and Madhapur among others.
Though metro rail authorities have been conducting plantation and translocation drives to make up for this green cover loss, these are mostly on the outskirts of the city. “What the metro authorities are showing about the plantations are just mere numbers. One should not forget that it is uncertain on how they will be maintained over the years or where they are exactly located,” C Ramchandraiah, a city-based social scientist said.
“Hyderabad has inadequate lung space and taking away more trees from within the city and planting them far from the city would not bring any respite to the citizens,” he said. TOI