Land grab threatens Tirumala ecosystem

Land grab threatens Tirumala ecosystem
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Highlights

Danger is lurking to the ecosystem with the State government allowing more and more establishments coming up in the sensitive forest fringe area between Alipiri and SV Zoo Park, on the slope of Tirumala Hills The constructions coming up one after another in the area turned out to be a major concern as it bound to have an adverse impact in the long run

Tirupati: Danger is lurking to the ecosystem with the State government allowing more and more establishments coming up in the sensitive forest fringe area between Alipiri and SV Zoo Park, on the slope of Tirumala Hills. The constructions coming up one after another in the area turned out to be a major concern as it bound to have an adverse impact in the long run.

It is indeed surprising to know that more than a dozen including those already existing and newly coming up occupying a large stretch at the cost of the rich biodiversity. The construction will not only destroys the thickets but also obstruct the streams originating from the hills vital source for replenishing groundwater in the pilgrim city down the hills.

First, it was the bypass road from Alipiri to Cherlopalli for a distance of about 6 km laid to decongest the traffic due to the increasing number of vehicles to Tirumala, saw the piercing of vast semi forest area on the slope of the hills which originally belongs to the TTD and was later leased out to the Sri Venkateswara University (SVU), opening the flood gates for the destruction of rich biodiversity.

It was only Regional Science Centre (RSC) that came up in an area of 15 acres, 25 years back followed by water treatment plant, State Institute of Hotel Management Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition (SIHMCT&AN), international cricket stadium and in the recent year, a private theme park Devlok, International Science Centre (AP Science City) titled as ‘Brahmandam’ one after another, in the last ten years.

Virtually, there is no area left in between Alipiri and SV Zoo Park, on the upper side of the road on the slopes of Tirumala Hill forests. While on the down side of the road lands allotted for the construction of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Arvind Eye Hospital and Tata Trust Cancer Hospital adding more to the damage.

Needless to say, that this resulted in chopping of hundreds of thousands of trees and bewildering the scores animals in the area retreat deep into the forests. Many environmentalists and natural lovers wonder on the government preferring the sensitive forest area which remained untouched all these years to preserve the ecosystem, for the allotment of the lands required for various institutions here when barren lands available in the nearby mandals like Renigunta and Srikalahasti where the government allotted thousands of acres for industries and other establishments like IIT and IISER.

The area is full of trees including endemic species like red sanders, home for a wide range of wild animals and also origin for many streams which will be in full flow during rains are major sources for sustaining groundwater said K Srinivasulu Reddy, a soil scientist.

Reddy is also president of the city based ‘Intellectual Forum’ responsible for taking up many cases against destruction of water bodies said many streams were already disappeared while several last their way due to the constructions.

Sethu Mohan of Seshachalam Eco Friends, a group of nature lovers, said “the area is a natural habitat for many wild animals and even a decade ago before these constructions came up, the morning walkers like me often came across spotted deer, wild dogs, wild boars etc. Now, seeing them it is a rare sight,” he said giving a tell-tale picture of the damage being taking place in the name of development.

This will have serious consequences on the eco system, Mohan and many others including retired forest officials and environment experts said urging the government to reconsider shifting at least some of the institutions like science city and cricket stadium where the works have not started.

They wanted mapping of the entire area identifying the streams for taking up adequate steps to not to disturb them and preserve the rich biodiversity of the area.

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