Hyderabad: Even as the state government is spending hundreds of crores of rupees to increase the green cover in the city, the engineering wings of nodal agencies, which have been executing the footpath project, are putting the lives of several trees at risk.
These nodal agencies are unscientifically sealing the trees growing at intervals along the pavements, with cement concrete so that they cannot be watered. While some big trees may have roots deep enough to penetrate to the ground water, several others do not and will eventually dry up and die.
Besides, if the trees are locked in with cement concrete, not allowing them to bend and sway with the wind, they could be uprooted on a windy day, damaging the footpath and passers-by. Due to official apathy, some 3000 trees have been uprooted in the last two years.
You don't have to be a rocket scientist or a horticultural expert to understand the above because it's simple common sense.
A Anil Kumar who maintains the Malkajgiri APIK nursery, says that any tree under five years of age will die due to suffocation if it is locked in, in this way. "Every plant has to have a breathing space of at least four to five inches for healthy growth. A plant takes in water through its roots and if the trunk/stem area is smothered in concrete or tiles the plant will be prone to pest attacks. Such unscientific methods will weaken its immune system and eventually it will dry up," Mr Kumar said. He said that trees above five years of age can suck in water from the ground but trees of that age are rarely found in the city today as they have been uprooted over the years by heavy rainfall and winds.
Environmental expert Jeevanand Reddy said that planting trees on the footpath is itself unscientific. The metro rail is already cutting off sunlight, which is the food of plants, and locking them in with cement and tiles will further reduce the life cycle of any species.
"Saplings should be planted on the centre median so that they will not be felled during road widening which inevitably happens in rapidly growing cities. The GHMC and HMRL should immediately rectify the errors in the existing footpaths and should have a long term plan to protect trees and save the city from pollution which has been increasing alarmingly," Mr Reddy said.
In 2016, the GHMC replaced the existing Peltophorum pterocarpum (konda chinta), gulmohar and other species with tamarind, neem, peepal, and flame of the forest trees under the Telangana government's ambitious 'Haritha Haram' programme. These species are better able to withstand any weather conditions. It is these trees that are being threatened by the cementing.
An urban bio-diversity official who did not want to be named said that the city has already lost more than 3000 trees over the past three years because of such unscientific methods as also due to weather conditions. He said half to one foot space must be left around the plant for watering.
HMRL managing director NVS Reddy said that this issue has come to his notice and he has given instructions to rectify matters immediately.
Chief Engineer (Maintenance) Mohammed Ziauddin was unavailable for comment....