A tree survey is considered critical to urban planning as it helps in deciding which trees would benefit the landscape.(Representational image)
Hyderabad: No government authority knows precisely how much of the city is green.
Preoccupied with plantation drives, the authorities claim they do not keep tabs on the existing green cover. How do they plan the plantation drives without this data is mystifying. How do the officials keep track of tree felling is another issue.
The Water Land and Trees Act, 2002 regulates permission needed for felling of trees, but the district-level WALTA units, headed by the collector, has no data on the number of trees felled in the city.
"We give permissions after proper verification but city-level data is yet to be compiled," Hyderabad collector Rahul Bojja said.
The GHMC’s urban biodiversity wing, which looks into the greening of urban spaces, has no substantive figures, making it easy for wrongdoers to act without accountability.
The same holds true for HMDA’s Urban Forestry. Both the departments upon enquiry stated that they only take up plantation and not surveys.
The forest cover is of varying density but the total area covered by forests is said to be about 24 per cent. Ranga Reddy conservator of forests S. Kukrety said they were aiming to improve the numbers.
"33 per cent is the golden number, and with Haritha Haram we may achieve that in some years."
Activists say government figures must be taken with caution as they are inflated.
A recent survey by the Indian Institute of Science quantified the city’s green cover at 4-5 per cent — a far cry from the 24 per cent claimed by officials.
In any city, the green cover is mandated at 33 per cent, which would provide the minimum green respite to the citizens. A tree survey is considered critical to urban planning as it helps in deciding which trees would benefit the landscape.