Telangana: Vikarabad forest under threat
Hyderabad: The Telangana state government faces criticism from civic activists in the state for its decision to hand over 2,900 acres of forest land in Vikarabad to Navy for setting up a radar centre. The activists also blame the state government over G.O. 111 that was aimed to ensure conservation of lakes.
Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has agreed to hand over reserve forest land of about 2900 acres at Pudur village in Vikarabad district to the Navy following a request by the Eastern Naval Command to set up VLF Station Naval Base.
Dammagudem reserve block covers 3,261 acres of forest land that is home to protected animals like deers, wild boars and other exotic flora and fauna. Activists have raised their voice against the move pointing out the loss of a huge forest area.
Dr Lubna Sarwath, Co-Convener of Save Our Urban Lakes (SOUL) said, “The state badly needs green cover and water. There can be no development without these. The air pollution is eating away the reproductive and cognitive ability of humans. Instead of thinking about conservation of the green cover and water resources the state government has given the forest land to the navy and is working on hanging bridge at Durgam Cheruvu.”
“For taking such decision regarding the forest, the Water Land Trees Act 2002 (WALTA) authorities need to be involved. The High Court had directed Telangana government in 2014 to constitute state WALTA authority that has been constituted by a GO. However the government has not taken the approval of WALTA in this case,” she adds.
The civic activists point out that the state government claims to protect lakes in Telangana state through Kakatiya Mission but, at the same time, violate their own government order by de-notifying two water resources Himayatsagar and Osmansagar.
This has resulted in encroachments and illegal constructions in the catchment area, violating GO 111 and blocking water channels obstructing the flow of water through inlets into the lake due to which it was shrinking.
Activists allege that this also appears to be an effort to destroy the Vikarabad-Hyderabad water and ecological zone which feeds the Himayatsagar and Osmansagar which might indirectly benefit the real estate in the 84 villages falling in Shamshabad, Moinabad, Shabad, Shankarpally, Rajendranagar and Chevella mandals.