Hyderabad emerges as iconic green city in India

Hyderabad emerges as iconic green city in India

A Crown Jewel for Telangana State

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao was, perhaps, the happiest and most honored person, in wake of Hyderabad city bagging the prestigious 'World Green City Award-2022' at the International Association of Horticulture Producers (AIPH), held in Jeju, South Korea, recently.

Hyderabad is the only Indian city that was selected for the 'World Green City 2022,' award, the best across all six categories and has bagged this beating Paris, Bogota, Mexico City, Montreal, and Fortaleza in Brazil. Hyderabad city further bagged the 'Living Green for Economic Recovery and Inclusive Growth Award.'

In the words of CM KCR, these international awards have further strengthened the reputation of Telangana and the country and are also a proof that the state government is relentlessly implementing massive plantation and urban development programmes. The award ceremony was conducted in association with IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) at Jeju Islands of South Korea on October 14, 2022 which were received by the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA) officials.

The International Association of Horticultural Producers is a prestigious global organization dedicated to promoting horticultural producers and holding international garden, flora festivals or expositions. AIPH aims to put flower, plant and landscaping services on a global agenda. AIPH members consist of thousands of growers of flowers and ornamental plants around the world who are together united by one essential goal of promoting the place of plants in people's lives.

As part of series of awards and rewards, earlier too, Hyderabad was recognized for the '2020 Tree City of the World' award and '2021 Tree City of the World' award by United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Arbor Day Foundation. Hyderabad was also ranked the best city to live in India in the Mercer's 'Quality of Living (India) Rankings–2019'. All this became possible due to the massive plantations taken up under various components in Hyderabad City. These include: Roadside multi layered avenue plantations, greenery on road central median, tank bund plantation, development of urban parks, urban forest blocks, dense plantations, colony/street plantations, institutional plantations, vertical gardens, block plantations, landscape gardens, rain gardens, theme parks, nurseries, planting homestead, flowering, ornamental plants by way of distributing to the general public free of cost etc.

Telangana Ku Haritha Haram, meaning 'Green necklace to the State of Telangana,' is the third largest afforestation programme in the world after Brazil and China, conceived by CM KCR and is being implemented in the state, by the Government of Telangana, since 2015-16, with the large-scale peoples' participation and steered by forest officials. Chief Minister's Office has an exclusive senior, committed Indian Forest Service Officer to monitor this unique program on a day-to-day basis. The programme envisages increasing the green cover of the State by about 10%from 24% to 33%. It is targeted to plant and rejuvenate 230 Crores seedlings in the state.

Effectively supplementing and complementing the efforts of Haritha Haram is the Green India Challenge concept of Rajya Sabha Member Joginapally Santosh Kumar that evoked an unprecedented response from across the world from high profile persons to common citizens. Inspired by this, it is now a voluntary accepted practice to several to plant a sapling on occasions like birthday. Forest Survey of India (FSI) in its biennial 'India State of Forest Report' revealed that Haritha Haram has helped in increase of the forest cover and green cover in the State.

As part of Haritha Haram, the Hyderabad Mega City (forming part of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation and Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority) with about 10 million inhabitants as well as one of the fastest growing metropolises in India, which is expected to be home to about 19 million residents by 2041, have taken up large-scale plantation. The total forest cover in the city has been increased substantially by way of planting about 10 crore seedlings during last seven years. Due to intensive plantations raised in Hyderabad city, the environment improved a lot. Annual cumulative rainfall also increased. Improvements are seen in ground water level and abatement of air and noise pollution.

Multifold approach was adopted in achieving the target of plantation. These include among others, a strong political will, involving every government department, all sectors of society including private corporate bodies, NGOs, student community, local residential communities etc. The plants required for their homestead planting are supplied by the Corporation at free of cost. The government has established Haritha Nidhi (Telangana Green Funds), an innovative financing model for other States and Nations to follow, for contribution from public Representatives, government employees and other sections of society. 10% of budgets of the organizations shall be incurred on greenery development. Urban forestry wings are created and appointed personnel at different cadres and provided logistic support. In GHMC, a separate Urban Biodiversity Wing is functioning to take up all greening activities. HMDA raised nursery seedlings and plantations in Hyderabad to reduce carbon footprint.

The Hyderabad city, observed International Association of Horticulture Producers (AIPH), with about 1,350 lakes in the core area and around 3,000 lakes in the HMDA, is committed to creation of as much bio-aesthetic environment by developing green, beautiful and hygienic atmosphere for the citizens of twin cities as feasible. Further it expressed the hope that, through these healthy ecosystems, it wishes to clean water, purify air, maintain soil, regulate the climate, and recycle nutrients with a better living environment in the city.

The initiative of massive afforestation in the city by way of very dense plantations, street plantations and restoration of lakes has improved the green cover in the city. Further there is a visible impact on city biodiversity observed AIPH. It further added that, the increase in green cover decreased pollution levels when compared to other mega cities of the country. It is evident that the initiatives taken up are very beneficial and vital in amelioration of the environment in Hyderabad city.

Multi-layer Avenue plantations which are a new concept by State led to improvement of air quality, ornamental plants gave aesthetic look and provided the awe factor to the commuters with pleasant surroundings, avenue and shrub plantations give shade and good quality air while the herbs provide medicinal value. Even smallest layout open spaces were utilized for dense plantations converting into Tree Parks with walking tracks, seating areas and fitness areas at some locations.

The initiative demonstrates evidence of a track record of success against pursued objectives observed AIPH and for instance mentioned that Outer Ring Road of Hyderabad is Green Garland to the city of Hyderabad and Green Corridor and Urban Lung Spaces in Hyderabad are being used by Public for recreation and environmental education etc. Thematic gardens like Medicinal Garden, Butterfly Garden, Rose Gardens raised in the Sanjeevaiah Park have become a center of environmental education.

The plantations raised in Hyderabad city became role model plantations and environmental education centers for other cities to adopt. The Forest Department of Telangana sends all its officers to field visits to the plantations raised in Hyderabad city to implement same model in the state as a whole. AIPH feels that the greenery developed in Hyderabad city has become a benchmark for other cities. And hence, a fully deserved 'World Green City Award-2022' for Hyderabad city. Congratulations to all those who are associated with this.

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