HYDERABAD: With the development of urban forest parks and the much-hyped Telangana Ku Haritha Haram (TKHH) scheme, the State government has been pumping crores of rupees towards man-made greening of Telangana. However, the government does not seem to have enough money for the protection and documentation of the natural, existing biodiversity in the State.
The government, in its recently announced Budget, had allocated an abysmal `25 lakh for the Telangana State Biodiversity Board. It is not hyperbole to say that the Board, with this amount, can do nothing but send all its employees home and lock up its office for a year. It may be noted that the Board pays an exorbitant office rent of Rs 25 lakh per annum, to a house just about a dozen employees who occupy a single floor in the Chandra Vihar building at Nampally.
According to sources, for many years now, there has been a demand to shift the Biodiversity Board office from Chandra Vihar to the sixth-floor head office of the Telangana Forest Department. The request, however, is yet to be considered by the State government.
At least Rs 1.2 crore needed
The Board requires at least Rs 1.2 crore a year, just to sustain itself by covering basic expenditure like salaries, office rent, stationery and electricity bill.
Every year, the Telangana government used to allocate close to `1 crore to the Board hitherto, helping it scrape through the year. However, the fact remains that even this amount is not nearly enough for the Board to take up activities related to biodiversity conservation, as is mandated by the law.
Case in point, the preparation of People’s Biodiversity Register (PBR), that the Board is supposed to take up in accordance with the Biological Diversity Rules, 2004. Even the preparation of one PBR at the gram panchayat level costs `1.15 lakh, and the cost is much higher at the Mandal and district levels.
It should not come as a surprise that the Board has managed to prepare PBRs for just 213, out of the close to 12,700-gram panchayats in the State — lack of funds being the reason. In fact, even these PBRs were prepared with the help of funds from the Central government. This also raises the question of whether the Board will be able to prepare PBRs covering the entire State by January 31, 2020, as was recently directed by the National Green Tribunal.