The administration of the University of Hyderabad (UoH) may be in trouble, after it allegedly cut down several trees on its campus, to lay a road.However, reports suggested that this was a violation of the Water, Land and Trees Act, 2002 (WALTA), as the greenery on campus is monitored by officials of the Telangana Forest Department. Writing for The New Indian Express, V Nilesh reports that prior permission had to be sought before certain tree species under a 'not exempted' list were cut down, while the Divisional Forest Officer had to be informed if tree species 'exempted' under the act were being cut down.While activists allege that the University did neither, the administration has defended the move.
Speaking to TNIE, Prof KS Prasad, professor in-charge of engineering section at UoH said, "The trees which have been felled belong to the exempted category under WALTA. There was no other way but to cut the trees as a road had to be laid to connect a new under-construction academic building with rest of the university." He also claimed that the administration had planted many saplings and understood the value of trees.Ravi Jillapalli, a student wildlife activist, who founded the 'Wild Lens' group on campus, pointed out that the University was "killing natural/indigenous trees on a regular basis and purchasing new plants at a cost of Rs 700."Taking to Facebook, Ravi wrote, "Anyone who stays in HCU campus knows that the zone where the administration is clearing the forest is habitat for spotted deers. It’s shocking to me, as to how these people could take such extreme steps to clear the huge number of trees without Forest Department's approval. In the name of development, University is doing deforestation on a regular basis."
"I don’t find any need to make the wildlife shelterless in this scorching summer...I saw a number of spotted deer running around tree logs that were cut off. Last summer, we lost 44 spotted deers due to dog attacks, poaching and dehydration. These animals won't be able to hide and safeguard themselves," he added.In fact, another deer died at the campus on Thursday morning, after it was attacked by wild dogs.
According to activists, this is the fifth death of spotted deer on the campus this year.Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, a senior forest official said, “We have sent the carcass for post mortem. Deforestation impacts the area adversely in the longer run. In any case, stray dogs have a keen smell, so they manage to chase deer. It seems only exempted species trees like eucalyptus, subabool, and casurina were felled in the campus.’’Officials from the state, reportedly visited the university to inspect the tree felling on Thursday.