'Green murder' of 55+ trees

Hyderabad: More than 55 trees were felled along a 3.5 km stretch of road from Hitec City flyover until Kukatpally Housing Board road at about 4 pm on Sunday. To facilitate the ‘green murder’, barricades were put and traffic policemen guided commuters away from the spot, a witness said.

“When we raised an alarm, it was too late. Not only does the stretch have no green cover anymore, the trees were not taken to be translocated and the debris was carried away in trucks," said Vinay Vangala, the witness.

The trees were taken down with no official permit and without any authority being aware of it. Tree protection committee (TPC) claimed it did not know, the GHMC said it had no idea.

When contacted, P. Anil Kumar, deputy director, urban biodiversity wing, Serilingampally, said that no permission was sought to carry out the felling. "We are surprised ourselves. When we enquired, nobody came forward to reveal the facts. Since we do not have powers beyond that to register a case or impose a penalty, we intimated the forest official concerned about the same." Anil Kumar said.

"The forest range officer is investigating the case. Two trucks that carried away the debris have been seized and the drivers are being questioned. We're hoping to have information on whose instructions this was carried out," said divisional forest officer D. Sudhakar Reddy. Gachibowli forest range officer Gopati Prathima was unavailable for comment.

Activists were angry that the largescale chopping of trees occurred not in a remote location but a place like Hitec City. "No reason justifies the killing of these trees. The recent rains are proof of the damage of climate change perpetuated by humans. The fact that the trees weren't even translocated is even worse," said Hanmantha Naidu, an IT professional.

Bellam Srinivas, an activist, said, "Just today Union minister Nitin Gadkari said that a tree transplantation project was initiated in February and March 2022 along the Sant Tukaram Maharaj Palkhi Marg in Maharashtra, 1,025 banyan trees were relocated. If such a huge number is possible, why not a mere 50 trees?"

Meanwhile, the tree debris is hindering the movement of traffic and pedestrians. "There's barely any place for us to stand at the bus stop now. I came here in the morning and I'm leaving now, not a leaf has moved since then," said Krishna Chaitanya, a student who commutes on RTC Route No. 192J.

According to the Indian Forest Act, the penalty for cutting down a tree is Rs 10,000 or three months imprisonment. The punishment may extend up to one year under various state Acts.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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