HYDERABAD: University of Hyderabad (UoH) administration has come under fire for cutting trees on its campus to lay a road in violation of Water, Land and Trees Act, 2002 (WALTA).
After receiving a complaint about it, Telangana forest department officials reached the university to inspect tree felling site on Thursday.
In another incident that occurred on the same day, a spotted deer fawn was found bleeding heavily after being attcked by stray dogs on campus. The animal died while being taken to a hospital.
As per WALTA, for felling of trees, one has to either make a self certification and give it to Divisional Forest Officer, if tree species to be felled are ‘exempted’ as per the act or if the tree species is ‘not exempted’ then prior permission has to be sought.
In any case, a fees of Rs 50 per tree has to be paid to forest department. Prof KS Prasad, professor in-charge of engineering section at UoH said, “The trees which have been felled belong to the exempted category under WALTA. There was no other way but to cut the trees as a road had to be laid to connect a new under-construction academic building with rest of the university. We have planted many saplings in university campus and understand value of trees.”
However, UoH did not submit self certification in Form 13(A) as per WALTA for cutting trees and neither did it pay the fees of Rs 50 per tree. Sidhanand Kukrety, Conservator of Forests, Rangareddy circle said, “For cutting down any tree, whether it be an exempted or non-exempted species, there are rules laid down as per the WALTA which one has to follow.
All urban authorities like GHMC follow these rules and the same is expected from UoH.” CP Vinod Kumar, District Forest Officer, Rangareddy, says, “If it is found that there has been violation of WALTA then appropriate action will be taken against contractor who felled trees.”
Lesson from IIT-Madras
IIT Madras, being close to a national park, has on its campus free ranging Blackbucks and smaller wild animals. The institute has an official group, named as Prakriti Wildlilfe Club, which has students as well as faculty as its members.
Susy Varughese, a founder member of the club says, “IIT-M administration discusses impacts of projects it takes up with us if it is expected to affect wildlife areas and we provide advice on reducing adverse impacts to a large extent. We have mapped the blackbuck movement corridor in the institute”.