It is coming on a site that is said to be home of endangered flora and fauna

The international cricket stadium coming up at the foot of Tirumala hills, for which the Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy laid the foundation stone on Wednesday, has raised eyebrows on both ecological and security angles.

A major facility, which is all set to kindle enthusiasm in sports enthusiasts of Rayalaseema region, it is considered a major boon to budding sportspersons.

SVU land

A 30-acre site of Sri Venkateswara University has been identified for the stadium on which the Andhra Cricket Association will construct the stadium.

The stadium is coming on a site where there are around 4 lakh fully-grown trees, including the precious and endemic red sanders.

The region is a rich catchment area for water flowing down the hills and is adjacent to the zoo. Forest officials, on condition of anonymity, admit that it is home to several endangered and herbivorous animals, which frequently stray on to the Alipiri-Cherlopalle bypass road. Even leopards have strayed on to the road in the past, indicating the growing man-animal conflict.

‘Waste land available’

“It is ecologically disastrous to disturb the forest. Tirupati definitely needs an international stadium, but not at the cost of its rich biodiversity conservation. Instead, waste and barren lands available in the Renigunta belt can be used,” says K. Srinivasa Reddy, president of Intellectual Forum and himself a soil scientist.

“It was our forum which fought a protracted legal battle to protect the Avilala tank, which was levelled by the Congress for its 1992 plenary and later by the Praja Rajyam in 2008,” recalls its secretary D.V.R. Sai Gopal.

Alipiri already bustles with one lakh pilgrims everyday and this stadium adds 30,000 more people, causing strain on infrastructure.

It may be recalled that the TTD declined alienation of its land to its employees here, indicating that it should be used to facilitate ‘natural expansion’ in future. “The establishment of a stadium in the little-known Gachibowli area in Hyderabad spurred development,” Dr. Reddy recalled.

At a time when Tirumala already faces security threat, the cricket stadium allows people to move much closer to the base of the Tirumala hills, which is increasingly becoming porous with the construction of such structures at the base.