It’s ironica: While the City killed its vibrant lakes it takes part in extolling biological diversity! Billboards are put up in the City welcoming CoP delegates to the ‘city of biodiversity.’ But what’s the ground reality?
Hyderabad was the Pride of Deccan and it was popularly referred as “City of Lakes And Gardens”. There were more than 3,000 lakes. Today it is down to a 3-digit number.
Till 2001-02 Hyderabad had salubrious climate. All of a sudden with building proliferation and real estate boom the first impact fell on lakes. A healthy lake is rich in biodiversity. It’s dynamic and vibrant entity. Various water creatures including fish keep lake live and clean. There is biodiversity in the lakes, with various plant species, water animals, birds. Hyderabad lakes were a stop gap habitat for many migrating birds. But with effluent, encroachment, abuse, and dumping, lakes have died.
Unfortunately, Hyderabad lakes have seen several forms of killings, some by the realtors and some due to wrong decisions by government officials. There has been a wanton stampede to rape the dams that saved its citizens.
Type of Killing
At the ground level most of the migrant labour starts the encroachment for temporary shelter and the same temporary shelter becomes permanent. For this the support starts from vote bank politics. Slowly with the political pressure the government official has to allot encroachers a house number, with power and water connections.
If we talk at the middle level the chota netas, local goons, political followers, all start looking for open places, especially the ones which are in no man’s land. They create and make all the fake documents for those lands. For creating the fake documents the government officials support them. Recently an MRO in the City was suspended on similar charges after an NGO brought out the corruption.
Many big corporate companies in the real estate sector sometimes buy land from the middle men at the lake and start a bigger project with the name “Lake View”. The common people think they are buying land from bigger companies and trust them without knowing the ground reality. Slowly after the occupation of the flats they feel the Lake View in the form of floods and pollution. Today most of the big real estate projects in the City have killed many lakes by encroaching the FTL (Full Tank Level). For some it has become an option to choose the project at lake and play the game with money.
The next form of killing the lake is with pollution — diverting all the sewerage into the lake. Especially the bigger real estate projects should have their own STP (Sewerage Treatment Plant) as per rules. But they are blatantly violated and release the sewerage into lakes. Apart from the sewerage serious note should be taken with respect to dumping of garbage into the lakes. The Hussain Sagar, which the CoP delegates will be shown, receives nearly 300-350 kgs of waste from all the nallah points everyday.
Duplicity of authorities, is a deliberate ploy. The main challenge is to preserve the biodiversity of Hyderabad by protecting the lakes lies with three challenging government departments.
- Irrigation (who owns the water of the lake and in-charge for the technical specifications of lake FTL fixing, bund, sluice, wire structures)
- Revenue (who owns the land)
- GHMC (The lake lies in their jurisdiction and who takes care of the sanitation of the lake).
But none of them take ownership or have a serious goal or vision to protect the water bodies.
Interestingly, we have another dumb body, HMDA, which is in-charge for a Lake Protection Committee. Formed in the year 2010. Their main job is to create awareness and getting co-ordinated support from the respective departments. It has been an abject failure and a party to the rape of the lakes. In-charge of the Hussain Sagar lake, it spent over `300 crore, which were funded by the JICA but everybody knows the result and wonder where the money has really flown down.
Thousands of delegates will be visiting the Hussain Sagar lake during the CBD and what’ s the upshot? The stench that emanates will drive them away.
(Panasa Ramakrishna leads It’s Time to Make a Difference, a City-based NGO)
How we treated water bodies?
- Dozens are turned to dumping yards.
- One lake turned into a cremation ground (Vengalarao Park)
- One lake turned into a golf course. (Lakes in Golconda)
- One lake turned into a park + Flyover (Masab tank).