HYDERABAD: Twisting and turning, holding a banner, Mythri, a student of class III said, “We need trees for air, water and to beat the heat.”
Taarisha, her neighbour, in the long human chain formed on KBR Park’s walkway added, “Some people are cutting them down. We need to save them because they make us breathe and make us healthy.”
These children were among 100 other people who gathered to raise awareness about something that is likely to result in the wipeout of the remaining tree cover in the city.
The group that comprised “responsible citizens” and several others organisations gathered to urge the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA) officials to stall the felling of 3,100 trees as part of its Strategic Road Development Project. The first phase of felling close to 273 trees has already begun, according to reports.
“HMDA has already taken its decision. There is no way they are going back. We as responsible citizens are here only to urge authorities that they need to rethink their decision. We want them to wait till the monsoon and then relocate the trees,” said Uma Chilakmarri. She added, “We are not against development. The temperatures are soaring. We are purchasing water now. At this rate we will purchase air,” she pointed out.
The group then set out to make some noise, literally, raising slogans, gathering the attention of people on the busy road and then going back for some pleasant music in open air, inside the park.
It didn’t take long for people to start a discussion and ideas to stall and relocate trees started pouring in. While one suggested creating a WhatsApp group, another raised a point on filing an RTI. Another woman wanted to stage a dharna outside HMDA’s office.
But one thing that the group agreed upon was to meet at 5 am the following morning to involve the KBR community after a lady said, “I run here everyday. But I haven’t noticed any of the trees marked. It is strange.”
That is not all. “We want to do something on the lines of Chipko Movement because we believe that is the only way to hold the felling. When we come down tomorrow morning we will spend time hugging the marked trees. We want to show people that we cannot just let these trees die,” shared Harsha Thanneru one of the members.
As per the plan, four people, including Harsha made a visit to the park in the early hours of Wednesday, getting people’s attention by holding on to the trees marked to be chopped off. “We gathered here and slowly walkers started coming up to us and asking questions. They signed up to join the movement,” informed Gopala Krishna of Hyderabad Trails.
It didn’t stop there. Taking it a notch higher, they met once again at 6 pm on Wednesday itself. Close to 60 people gathered and KBR runners and walkers joined in.
Harsha spoke to us from the park premises. “We observed that none of the trees that were marked have been chopped since yesterday evening. But this is not going to continue. We are currently thinking of dividing into teams and keep a watch. Some of us plan to stay through the night till Sunday. We also want to start doing researching on what is happening. We want to file RTIs and gather more information. We plan to meet again on Sunday,” he told us.