As countless developmental and infrastructural projects are given the green signal from the government, people living in almost every city and town in the country haplessly observe indiscriminate felling of trees.
As much as development is necessary for any region to thrive, what we fail to realise or probably acknowledge is the fact that without trees, only a grim future awaits us.
So that brings us to a simple yet important question: Why does any development project have to mean that the trees in its ambit have to be cleared?
A Forest Range Officer (FRO) in the Kawal Tiger Reserve (KTR) of Telangana, also had the same question, when he found out that many trees had been felled without legal permission when the state government took up the task of strengthening old bridges passing through KTR.
Posted to the Indhanpalli range only six months ago, R Srinivas Rao decided to stand up to political and official pressure by not allowing the same course of action at Jannaram from Luxettipet zone, where a diversion from the new bridge near the Anjaneya temple, had been commissioned by the Roads & Buildings (R&B) wing of the Public Works Department (PWD).
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“I did not recommend felling of the 30 fully matured trees, 18 of which are teak, as it meant a lot of destruction just to create a diversion,” Rao told The Hindu.
According to Rao, the particular Luxettipet-Nirmal road was 66 feet wide, and an additional width space of 10 metres was needed for the bridge. Instead of permitting the clearance of as many as 30 trees to expand the existing three-metre wide bridge, what Rao put forth to the R&B officials and the contractor was an alternate diversion plan which could save these trees from being felled.
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Unsurprisingly, the green crusader’s plan didn’t immediately yield a positive outcome. He was bombarded with phone calls from various political and even official channels to relent to the project.
However, Rao was adamant and stuck to his resolve of not letting the forest being stripped of its greenery just for a diversion on the road.
Thankfully, the road authorities relented and progressed the work as per Rao’s plan. Besides stopping the cutting of trees, he had also asked the authorities to set up the working campsite away from the site of the bridge.
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“I ensured that the camp was not set up at the place as wild animals cross the area in the night. There would have been a lot of disturbance in the forest due to movement of labourers,” the FRO added.
Diligent officers like R Srinivas Rao, who stay faithful to their uniform and duty, are the genuine, unsung heroes in the country. Without yielding to political pressure or threats, he truly epitomised the real meaning of a guardian of the forests through his resilient act.