Telangana has been ranked in the top in terms of overall environmental performance in the annual report of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a prominent public interest research and advocacy organisation.
The progress achieved in increasing forest cover and in municipal waste treatment was considered for the ranking.
Lauding the ranking, state Minister K.T. Rama Rao said that Telangana, which has been topping national charts in various parameters, proved yet again that it is a role model to the country.
He claimed that Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s brainchild ‘Haritha Haram’ and other environmentally friendly programmes secured this rare honour.
KTR recalled the state government’s pioneering initiatives which led to the remarkable increase in the green cover in both rural and urban areas, the social benefits and national, international recognition achieved because of them, waste-to-energy programmes and other aspects.
He said that the Chief Minister undertook the Haritha Haram programme to reverse the damage caused to the environment in the state. The minister said that the state government implemented the programme, with the cooperation of people, to increase the green cover from 22 per cent to 33 per cent.
KTR said that various organisations have recognised the positive impacts the programme had. About 273 crore of saplings were planted in the last nine years, which led to an increase in the forest cover from 19,854 square km in 2015-16 to 26,969 square km in 2023. A remarkable 24.06 per cent of geographical area in the state is covered with forests.
The minister cited the Forest Survey of India’s report, which stated that the Haritha Haram programme increased the green cover in the state by 7.70 per cent. The Minister said that along with social forestry, parks were developed in both urban and rural areas.
KTR said that the green budget is allotted under the Panchayat Raj. Act and Municipal Act, which is a first of its kind. Now, he said, about 15,000 nurseries, nearly 19,400 Palle Prakruthi Vanams, and 2,725 large Palle Prakruthi Vanams were developed.
The minister said that Rs 700 crore was spent to develop urban forest parks in cities. Hyderabad has been recognised as the Tree City of the World.
He said that the state government implemented best practices in sanitation management too. The process of biomining, to ensure scientific disposal of waste, was started in municipal corporations and municipalities. KTR noted that 24 Megawatts (MW) were produced through waste-to-energy in Hyderabad.
The state also stood as a leader in generating electricity through alternative sources. The minister said that while only 74 MW was produced through solar energy. When the state was formed in 2014, it surged to 5,865 MW now. He said that it is a matter of pride that the small state stood in second position. In the country in terms of generating power through solar energy. And that it is a testament of the state’s commitment.
KTR said that the national and international level recognitions to the state government’s efforts gives further inspiration. He recalled policy think tank NITI Aayog’s appreciation that Prakurthi Vanam concept is a role model to the country. He said that this is a recognition of the state government’s comprehensive and balanced environmental policies. And Chief Minister KCR’s commitment to the environment.