How Hyderabad turned greening into numbers game and aced it

The state's flagship program Telangana Ku Haritha Haram is a large-scale tree planting program implemented since 2015-16.

The state’s flagship program Telangana Ku Haritha Haram is a large-scale tree planting program implemented since 2015-16.

Hyderabad has received three awards in a row for being one of the greenest cities in the world. Earlier this month, it beat out cities like Paris and Montreal to be named the World’s Greenest City. For two consecutive years, Arbor Foundation and Food and Agriculture Organization recognized Hyderabad as the ‘World Tree City’. The city’s green activists are happy, even surprised. Has Hyderabad really gone green?

“At the beginning of the 2000s, the city started to become greener due to the planting of trees along the avenues during the 80s and 90s. We began to see the yellows of the goldenrod trees and the pinks of the trumpet trees. Haritha Haaram added to that effort but it is the numbers game that bothers us. It should be about quality and not about quantity,” says Sadhana Ramchander, who is part of the citizens’ collective trying to save the Chevella Bantars.

“We do not audit the results, but require the Mayor’s signature to verify the information provided,” Alana Tucker, Program Director of the Arbor Foundation’s Tree Cities Program, said when asked about the process for selecting the winner.

The state showcased a flagship Telangana Ku Haritha Haram programme, which is a tree planting program implemented since 2015-16, against the odds to win the world’s Green City Award.

Data collected by the Ministry of Environment and Forests show that forest cover has increased. In 2015, Hyderabad and Rangareddy districts had no dense forests, 53 sq. km moderate forests and 355 sq. km open forests. By 2021, the twin districts had 0.02 km² of dense forest, 150.01 km² of temperate forest and 672 km² of open forest.

Hyderabad’s greenery can also be seen from space. Global Forest Watch says India’s rainforest has declined by 3.6% between 2001 and 2021. In contrast, Hyderabad recorded .47% of the tree cover achieved in Telangana and Rangareddy recorded a gain of 9% in the tree cover of the state.

Road Multi-Layer Avenue Plantation – 881.5 km long, number 37,27,805.

In the Central Median of the Greenway Road – 406.50 Km long, number 47.03.241.

Tank bund plantation no. no. Lakes – 24, no. Plants 32,00,000.

City Parks 1087 numbers.

Urban Forest Area Block Plantation 5928.38 Ha, no. Plants 30,00,000.

Colony/Street Plantation – 56,25,857.

Institutional Plantations – No. Plants 155,00,000.

Vertical Garden – 12.

Block Plantation – 250Ha along ORR

Garden Landscapes – 12.5 Ha.

Rain garden – 7 numbers and number of plants 7,00,000.

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