Between ecology and development

The mandarins in the Telangana government have been stuck in a dilemma over where to draw the line between development and environment.

Published: 14th August 2021 07:45 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th August 2021 07:45 AM   |  A+A-

Osman Sagar

Osman Sagar

The mandarins in the Telangana government have been stuck in a dilemma over where to draw the line between development and environment. Take for instance the two major lakes in Hyderabad’s outskirts: Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar. Though GO 111 that proscribes construction in their catchment area has existed for years, a committee of officials was constituted to examine its relevance in the wake of pleas for its annulment as the two lakes have ceased to be drinking water sources for Hyderabad and development in 84 villages in the catchment area was suffering on account of the ban.

Though the committee met 28 times during the last four-and-a-half years, it could not come to a decision, which has annoyed even the Telangana High Court that recently asked the government why this was taking too long.

At KBR National Park in Jubilee Hills, which happens to be a major lung space for the residents of Hyderabad, the government is facing a similar problem. It wants to develop roads around the park under the Strategic Road Development Plan to end traffic problems. For doing so, it has to cut down trees, which it has already started after the Centre renotified the eco-sensitive zone of the park in favour of the state government. In the see-saw battle between environmentalists and the government, the High Court recently issued interim orders to stop the felling of trees. 

It is not as though the state has over time become an enemy to the environment. Various departments of the government have developed a number of verdant parks with aesthetic appeal in and around Hyderabad for residents to relax in the evening hours. And in full swing is Haritha Haram, a programme to improve green cover and restore ecological balance to the extent possible. The Forest Survey of India, in a recent report, has said that there is a 3.6% increase in forest cover since the formation of Telangana in 2014. The state, however, has to use wisdom and discretion when development threatens the environment. It should ensure that the least damage is done either way when a decision is taken. 


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