HYDERABAD:Will there be 52 replicas of KBR National Park in the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA) region? This is what environmentalists in Hyderabad are asking, not with excitement, but with fear that the fate of KBR National Park might befall the 52 reserved forests where the state government plans to develop gardens for public.
The government issued an order on Friday, saying that ‘urban parks’ would be developed in 52 of the 188 reserved forest blocks situated within HMDA limits. Thirty-seven of the proposed 52 urban parks will be developed by agencies other than the forest department — GHMC, HMDA, Hyderabad Metro Rail and tourism department.
The 52 reserved forests will be modelled on the lines of KBR National Park in Banjara Hills where a small portion of the forest, about 10 per cent or less, will be developed as a garden and the remaining will be kept as conservation zone into which the public will not be allowed.
While the government claims that development of urban parks in reserved forests will give the citizens the much-needed lung space, environmentalists are afraid that the biodiversity of the reserved forests will be threatened. Recently, a group of environmentalists served notice to the Union ministry of environment and forests complaining about alteration of the landscape in KBR National Park to make space for three open gyms apart from construction of sheds, sitting areas, footpath and photograph stands, and people coming in droves to the forest and making noise, which is against the rules.
Kajal Maheshwari, one of the environmentalists who served the notice, said, “Many people sit in KBR National Park praising the high number of peacocks. But they do not realise that it is because of human interference over the years that small carnivores, which used to keep peacock population under check, have vanished. A similar fate will befall the biodiversity of 52 reserved forests if gardens are created there.”
A retired Indian Forest Service officer, on the condition of anonymity, said, “It is the BJP-led Central government scheme of Nagar Van Udyan Yojana, which has diluted the sanctity of natural forests and laws governing them, that is encouraging the Telangana government to undertake such a scheme.”