HYDERABAD: In the year 2018 permissions were accorded by the government for diversion of over 1,220 acres of forests for various projects, that would allow chopping down of trees in these forests. However, most of the forest area that was diverted was for mainly two projects — 637 acres in the Karimnagar East forest division for various construction works to be taken up as part of the Kaleshwaram lift irrigation scheme and 309 acres in Kothagudem forest division for coal mining by Singareni Collieries.
While one might gasp at these numbers, this year’s figure is much smaller than last year. In 2017 permission was accorded for diversion of around 14,740 hectares of forests for about 42 projects. Last year too, a chunk of forest diversion permission was accorded for Kaleshwaram project and Singareni Collieries.
This year the Ministry of Environment and Forests also released the revised draft notification on Eco Sensitive Zone of KBR National Park in Hyderabad, narrowing walkway around the park from present width of 25-35metres to 3-29.8metres, inviting protests from citizens and environmentalists from the City.
Also, this year the standing committee of National Board for Wild Life gave green signal this year for clearing of trees over 1,100acres area falling under the ESZ of Kinnerasani sanctuary, of which 670 acres is forested, for the Sitarama Lift Irrigation Project. NBWL also accorded permission for clearing of 2.5 acres forest in Nellikal reserved forest under Amrabad Tiger Reserve, for the Nellikal irrigation project.
Although the notified forest area in Telangana is 26,903.7 sq km which is 24 per cent of state’s geographical area 1,12,102 sq km, the actual forest cover that exists on the ground is an abysmal 16,504.33 sq km or 14.72 per cent of state’s geographical area as per figures by Telangana forest department.