HYDERABAD: In a victory for the city’s green brigade, the state government has finally decided to ‘drop’ work at the KBR Park under its State Road Development Plan (SRDP). Officials confirmed that work at six junctions surrounding the national park has been shelved for now.
“The KBR project has been dropped for the time being. A proposal for the flyovers and underpasses planned at the junctions surrounding the park were put before the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) last year, but approval has been pending,” said a GHMC official speaking on condition of anonymity. The plan to build multi-level grade separators around the park was to cost Rs 436 crore. GHMC sources said that the focus will now be on completing other projects. “Work worth Rs 5,000 crore is currently underway, achieving which is no small feat,” said an official.
While elated over the development, activists and environmentalists said this was not enough. Environmentalist Kaajal Maheshwari, who was at the centre of the ‘Save KBR’ campaign said: “This is a very welcome decision but needs to be officially endorsed.” She added that in 2002, the Supreme Court had directed state governments to notify area within 10km of boundaries of National Parks and Sanctuaries as eco-sensitive zone.
“From 2002 till date, the ESZ for KBR National Park has not been declared. Over the years, the 10km radius was encroached leaving only the walkway. In fact, the last proposal by this government — that is still with MoEF — proposes to do away with a major chunk of the existing walkway for the flyovers. The government should withdraw the existing proposal and submit a new one that protects the walkway in its entirety,” Maheshwari added. She said a GO similar to GO111 should be issued that further prohibits activities around KBR Park, especially in the buffer zone.
Some experts suggested that the Covid-19 pandemic has been a wake up call for government planning. “The pandemic has taught us that the work-from-home concept is possible… With lesser traffic being a feasible option, there must be re-think on all infrastructure projects,” said former Telangana State Pollution Control Board (TSPCB) member Subba Rao.
Anant Maringanti, director, Hyderabad Urban Lab said there was a need to push for community-based infrastructure rather than big-ticket projects.
“There needs to be a re-envisioning of urban planning,” he added.
Courtesy Times of India