Hyderabad: The city has been recognized as a “Tree City” for the second year in a row by the Arbor Day Foundation and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN).
Hyderabad is just one of the two cities in India recognized this year. The other city is Mumbai. In total, 120 cities were recognized as tree cities of the world in 23 countries.
According to Tree Cities of the World, a total of 3,50,56,635 trees were planted in Hyderabad in the last year and it registered 500 volunteer hours.
The United States, United Kingdom, and Canada are the countries with the highest number of ‘Tree Cities’ – 37.19 and 18 cities respectively.
According to their website, after being recognized by Tree Cities of the World, the organization will provide direction, assistance and worldwide recognition for the community’s dedication to its urban forest. It will provide a framework for a healthy, sustainable urban forestry program in cities and towns and the benefits are substantial.
However, Hyderabad citizens and nature lovers do not recognize this and say otherwise.
“Hyderabad is part of the Deccan scrub and Telangana is not very green. However, the green has been increased over the years by Haritha Haram,” said Sadhana Ramchander, a Hyderabad-based nature enthusiast.
She added, “The recent recognition may be a bit of an exaggeration.” She explained that saplings are planted as part of the Haritha Haram and later, as they grow, are cut by the electricity department. Sadhana said she often finds several deformed trees in Hyderabad.
Activists and nature lovers further argued that native plants should be grown instead of exotic plants.
“Even small plants that are planted are counted as trees. While initiatives like Haritha Haram are great, there needs to be a census to see how many trees have really survived over the years,” said Asiya Khan, a nature lover. She further said that very few people maintain the trees after they are planted. “Many trees die due to lack of proper care,” she added.
Natasha Ramarathnam explained: “Data show that the green cover in Hyderabad has gone up. But on the ground it is not completely true. Many trees are cut down for various reasons, such as for construction, road widening, and more.”
She went on to say, “The Punjagutta flyover has a steep curve because there is a mall. If we can run a mall flyover, why can we not do it for trees?”