Banyans at risk as four-lane road to Chevella greenlighted

A piece of history: The banyans are nearly 100 years old, planted during the Last Nizam’s time.   | Photo Credit: Save Banyans of Chevella Instagram page

Future of hundreds of banyan trees on the Chevella-Manneguda highway courts is uncertain yet again, with the proposal for road-widening getting sanction from the Central government.

The State government has recently got approval from the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways for widening of the road between APPA junction and Manneguda via Chevella.

Reducing travel time

The road will be made four lane along the 46-km length, with an estimated expenditure of ₹928.41 crore, in order to prevent accidents. Widening of the road is set to cut short the commuting time to remote mandals of Vikarabad district such as Tandur, Pargi, and Kodangal. Besides, the road connecting Hyderabad with Bijapur, if widened completely, will simplify travel to several areas of Karnataka too.

Though the proposal for road-widening was first mooted in 2018, it could not be taken up then, due to several constraints, including lack of funding. Another reason was the about 1,100 banyan trees hemming the road on both sides, which were proposed to be axed when the project came up.

Century-old trees

The banyans are nearly 100 years old, and planted during the Last Nizam’s time, claimed environmentalists who had launched a pitched battle with the State government authorities.

An online petition launched by concerned citizens batting for the banyans has received close to 38,000 signatures. As a result, felling permission granted by the Forest department was revoked.

In 2020, the trees scaled up to headlines again, when scores of them were found burnt, mutilated, and chopped. Field survey done by nature enthusiasts revealed that a total of 101 trees were sabotaged with deliberate intention of making way for the highway-widening.

Field enquiry by the Forest department officials led nowhere, and campaigns were run educating the people of the villages along the road in order to prevent further damage.

“Now that the road-widening proposal has got sanction and funding, the banyans are yet again in danger. The highway needs to be widened to prevent accidents. But the trees can be translocated, which we offered to do free of cost. We have enough individuals and organisations willing to adopt the banyans, and bear the translocation expenses — only if we get the permission,” says P. Uday Krishna from Vata Foundation.

Enquiries with the Forest department officials have revealed that felling permission has not yet been sanctioned. Officials from National Highways Authority of India could not be reached for their version.

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 12:04:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/banyans-at-risk-as-four-lane-road-to-chevella-greenlighted/article36599811.ece

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