Published: 14th August 2019
Green cover can't be sacrificed for any city plan: Manikonda Vedakumar, Forum For A Better Hyderabad
Forum For A Better Hyderabad's Manikonda Vedakumar took us on a nostalgia trip to the time when Hyderabad was a city lush with greenery and no urban planner dared change that
Ours is an agrarian culture and we've always been living in villages. Only after the British invasion did we start industrialisation and fast urbanisation in the name of development. What should the size of a city be? This is all happening because we're unable to take care of our livelihoods in the rural areas and rural economy. But at what cost? What are the resources we need?
I hail from a village where I studied till class XI. This was in 1969. Then I came to the city. The then Hyderabad had the same sort of life, climate and the beauty of a village. I never felt much of a difference. Hyderabad is an urban city where there's regular drinking water, electricity, well-laid roads, buses, interesting cinema halls, but still, it's a city of Tehzeeb. The kind of forest cover we had during the Kakatiya rule of the Qutb Shahi period was marvellous. It was called a lake city and a garden city. Whatever is manufactured in any part of the world was brought here. We had our own road transport and railway system. It was culturally rich. We had all the languages spoken here — from Kashmiri to Malayalam.
Today, more than 4 million litres of liquid waste and more than 400 metric tonnes of solid waste are generated every day in Hyderabad. The kind of air and water pollution here is unimaginable. The new city that was created, especially Cyberabad, was developed without a drainage system. The secret lake which supplied drinking water was made into a sewage dump yard. A lot of garbage, especially industrial waste is let into the Hussain Sagar Lake.
Let's now talk about forests. At one time, Mohammed Ali Pasha was fond of forests and hunting. Where have all these forests gone? In 2007, we started a Chipko Movement against tree felling. We prepared a set of guidelines for the Tree Protection Committee and it was issued by the government. We have managed to save 10,000 trees since then. This is restricted to Hyderabad. More than 7,500 trees were translocated. The city planners should think of the green cover while designing the master plan. Big projects have always been threats to the greenery. Here, since it is an upland area, we need agriculture, especially with what's been happening since separation. These days, many people are moving to the villages, at least for celebrations. This is a great sign.
Under the chairmanship of Manikonda Vedakumar, Forum for a Better Hyderabad focuses on the Sustainable Development of Hyderabad and the neighbouring region by addressing issues pertaining to urban planning, heritage conservation, lakes conservation, urban biodiversity and green spaces, transportation and traffic management and environmental pollution control. Through his efforts, Forum has protected more than 25 heritage buildings in the city. He also serves as the Chairman of Telangana Resource Centre