Razing The Grass
- KBR national park (390 acres) is bigger than London’s Hyde Park and 610 meters above sea-level
- It boasts of 600 species of trees, 15 kinds of mammals and reptiles and 100 species of bird
- Plans are afoot to fell 3,100 trees to make way for 8-lane flyovers at a cost of Rs 21,000 crore
The 23-month-old state of Telangana has been gift-wrapped on arrival with a lot of infrastructure project announcements and the phrase “global smart city” is used a lot. But it’s the state government’s Strategic Road Development project—planning flyovers, skyways and elevated corridors across Hyderabad at a cost of Rs 21,000 crore—that has run into candle-lit protests.
In the first phase, the project will substantially affect the lush-green Kasu Brahmananda Reddy Park—a protected forest. Visitors to the KBR Park are allowed only into 140 acres. Just over one-tenth of the 390-acre park houses the eighth Nizam Mukarram Jah Bahadur’s Chiran Palace.
Green activists are not the only ones cut up. Mantri Developers, who were building high-cost villas on 5.85 acres of KBR Park area, are demanding a compensation of Rs 1,000 crore. This was initially a Maytas project. “When it rains, water flows down this ridge and collects along the park’s trees, which have a substantial centre of gravity,” explains Anant Mariganti of the Hyderabad Urban Lab. “By building a multi-level flyover monstrosity, we are creating a heat-island effect which damages not just the park but raises temperature levels across the city,” he elaborates.
Officials sarcastically dismiss the objections as “an idle time-pass of the...