Haritha Haram trees: Shorn of life before they could serve

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Haritha Haram trees: Shorn of life before they could serve

A large number of avenue trees on both sides of a road near Kokapet have been marked for removal within a few years of their plantation, without required permissions.

The medium sized trees were planted merely three to four years ago as part of the Telangana government’s flagship mass afforestation programme Telangana Ku Haritha Haram, sources informed.

A total 345 trees on both sides of the service road of the Outer Ring Road, between Kokapet toll plaza and the Movie Tower road, were spotted shorn of their foliage on Monday, in apparent attempt of translocation.

The saplings were planted along the 1.6 kilometre road only a few years ago, under the Haritha Haram, but marked for removal now for widening of the road.

However, the executing agency, Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA) has neither notified nor sought permission from the Forest department before preparing the trees for the translocation. Officials from the Forest department have confirmed the same, and said they have stopped the work, and are preparing to issue notices to the urban development authority for the violation.

“We are insisting that removal of any tree within the city should be approved by the department, irrespective of its age and size. The trees have been pruned without any consultation with the department, and we are taking action against the violation,” informed an official.

This is not the first time saplings planted under Haritha Haram are removed to make way for developmental works. P.Uday Krishna from Vata Foundation notes that scores of trees planted under the programme were put to an axe in Kollur even before it came to anybody’s notice. There had been another similar instance on the National Highway 44 near Kamareddy where the saplings planted under Haritha Haram were uprooted within a short time.

“There must have been several instances which have not come to our notice. With so many saplings of the Haritha Haram programme removed within no time, the programme appears to be mere jugglery of numbers,” says Mr.Uday Krishna.

The trees pruned in the latest instance are mostly of the species Tabebuia argentea, a flowering variety which does not have a root ball conducive for translocation, hence little or no chance of survival, Mr.Uday Krishna says.

There are also members of Alstonia species, which is a forest variety, officials from the Forest department said. When contacted, HMDA authorities, on the condition of anonymity, claimed that the pruning was done by the Engineering wing without their knowledge or consent.

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