Dear friends of banyans,
We have some good news. The four-laning has been shelved and our banyans are safe for now! Read on...
The National Highways Authority of India has shelved the four-laning of NH-163 between Hyderabad (Moinabad) and Manneguda — Woohoo!
A recent official letter from the NHAI headquarters in New Delhi has advised NHAI Hyderabad to stop further action on land acquisition for the project. This is great news and a clear signal that the banyans have been spared for now!
This letter means a lot, and the Nature Lovers of Hyderabad are delighted! It gives us hope that the Chevella Banyans have been heard. The group has no illusions that we have solely been responsible for this, but the popular upsurge against chopping down the banyans and other trees has had an impact. After all, it is hard to ignore 37,000 people!
HOPE — AND CAUTION
Hope must be tempered with caution and vigil. This letter has infused us with fresh hope that the trees can be saved. However, we are also aware that this is only a rest-stop in the long journey towards securing their safety -- and towards bringing in a more eco-sensitive mindset to such development efforts. The NH-163 is a much longer road project, of which the Hyderabad-Manneguda stretch is only 46 km. Work has not stopped on these other stretches, and till alternatives are found, there is a risk that the project may be revived.
We have submitted a detailed representation/petition that covers all viable alternatives to the NHAI Regional Officer, Hyderabad -- solutions that strengthen our case. For example, there are existing alternative roads that NHAI can widen and there are different routing strategies they can pursue, which are in line with the Indian Road Congress Guidelines and other directives from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. The trees and the ecosystems they sustain can be incorporated into our development plans with some thought and effort. Trees are also a crucial part of our living natural heritage -- a thought that is gaining rapid importance around the world. Protecting this green heritage should be an urgent priority in all development projects.
Our campaign to save the trees has not ended. We have to now shift to consolidating the love and affection the trees have garnered in these past few months. We have many plans that we will share with you, but you can make some too — go spend some time under the Chevella banyans, and enjoy their grandeur! Spread the word that they are safe for now. Together, we can work towards a policy that actively counts trees, boulders and the rest of the natural world as stakeholders in our development efforts. We cannot afford to let down our vigil, nor can we afford to waste any time with climate change drastically affecting our lives.
We thank every one of you from the bottom of our hearts – this could not have happened without your help! Please continue to support this campaign as it recalibrates…and help us keep an eye on the banyans. Do let us know if they are in danger. Together, let us make sure they stand there forever in all their magnificence. #SaveBanyansOfChevella