HYDERABAD: Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) Expert Committee of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has directed the state government to conduct a public hearing over the acceptability of the draft notification of the park’s ESZ and submit a detailed report before embarking on the demarcation process.
The direction was issued in the 33rd ESZ Expert Committee meeting held in New Delhi on February 28. The minutes of meeting of the discussion was recently made public by the ministry. The move comes in the wake of thousands of people from the city writing to the MoEF and participating in an online signature campaign against the proposal to decrease the width of KBR Park’s walkway to three metres at some stretches and axing 1,300 trees.
The decision to hold a public hearing is expected to create a good precedent for the marking of ESZs for other protected forest areas in the country. In most cases, a draft notification is published, after which the public is allowed to present its views to the MoEF in a 60-day window, following which the MoEF publishes the final notification taking into consideration public opinion. The draft notification published in October last year proposed the reduction of the ESZ from a minimum of 25 metres of available open area to a range of 3 to 29.8 metres to facilitate the State government’s plan of constructing flyovers at six junctions around the national park as part of strategic road development plan.
The proposal sparked protests by environmentalists and nature-lovers who said shrinking KBR Park would negate the very objectives of ESZ.