On Wednesday, a two-judge panel of the Telangana High Court, led by Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy, halted the State government and Forest Department from destroying 1,398 trees in the Eco-Sensitive Zone near KBR Park in the heart of Hyderabad.
The petitioners' counsel, Rithwick Dutta, argued that the Forest Department has not explained their plan of action for the trees that will be cut down. Chief Justice Hima Kohli asked the State government to explain why the areas under protection were drastically reduced. The government has been ordered to submit a detailed list of the trees that will be cut down, including their age and variety.
Amicus Curiae L Ravichander sought an injunction on tree felling in a related matter taken up suo moto by the court. The Panel denied the government's request for a "status quo" order and affirmed that the government is prohibited from felling trees in the KBR National Park area.
The said panel did not dismiss the Chief Secretary's request that the GO relating to the earmarking of Rs 59 crore be amended. The panel ordered the Telangana government to file an addendum to the GO they issued for pending contempt cases, allocating nearly Rs 59 crores in the process.
The panel had previously stayed the use of the said fund pending further orders when the case was first heard. Somesh Kumar, the Chief Secretary, filed an affidavit the same evening. The panel then granted the Advocate General's request to file an addendum pertaining to the land acquisition petitions that they claimed. The Panel also voiced concern over the manner and tenor in which the GO was drafted. The case has been rescheduled for a hearing on August 13th.
The panel demanded a new report on the Covid-19 situation from the Director of Medical & Health and the Director-General of Police. The government was relying on a report filed in June, according to the panel. When counsel mentioned that an August report was available, the panel noted that it was not on the docket. The panel instructed the authorities to investigate the third wave.
Chikkudu Prabhakar, a counsel appearing in the batch, stated that with the upcoming elections in Huzurabad and the upcoming festival seasons, compliance to the Covid Protocol was required. The panel instructed the government to include a reference to the GRAP Plan and its implementation in the following report. While the hospitals may have the necessary infrastructure, Senior Counsel L Ravichander also stated that the government must prepare manpower to handle the situation. The panel ordered that the case be heard in September when the government will present an updated report.