While tall promises are being made on a daily basis at the ongoing CoP-11, the ground reality is that the Hussain Sagar lake is being killed slowly by waterfront encroachments and mounds of garbage.
Hussain Sagar’s road to recovery is shrouded in irony. While tall promises are being churned out by the hour at the ongoing CoP-11, growing number of commercial establishments around the lake stand in blatant defiance of the WALTA Act. More is being said than done, say environmentalists, while authorities assure that the lake is on the road to a speedy recovery.
In its Water Bodies Protection clause, the WALTA Act clearly states that no permanent structure ought to be built in or around a lake, pond, or any water body declared as a heritage body or under conservation status. But the reality is often different. For over seven years, a number of commercial establishments have been flourishing successfully on the fringes of the lake. The presence of eateries and amusement parks around the Hussain Sagar is an example.
But when approached by Postnoon, these establishments have surprisingly innocent answers. “Jalavihar is in no way a permanent structure. It is a temporary structure that can be dismantled at any time. Furthermore, we have our own STP and sewage lines laid in accordance with the sewage board’s guidelines,” says Shashi, manager of Jalavihar. Kalicharan, manager of Waterfront, too has the same answer.
Environmentalists and civil society groups, however, cannot believe the irony. “The lake is a hotspot for tourism. The Supreme Court had laid down various guidelines in 2001 to protect the lake from encroachments. But surprisingly, no local administrative body is clear about whose responsibility this lake actually is. Moreover, after the Hussain Sagar is cleaned up by the JAICA project, they wish to put it to recreational use. The only solution to this is that there should be one local authority or agency that should be responsible for the lake,” says Major Shiva Kiran, an environmentalist.
The Pollution Control Board occasionally comes out with disturbing statistics about the pollution levels, but nothing is done, say environmentalists.The latest case of government-authorised encroachments is the GHMC’s plan to build a garbage yard truck parking spot opposite the Sanjeeviah park — in close vicinity of the lake.
While Chandana Khan, principal secretary to the AP State Tourism Board, refused to comment on this issue, officials from the HMDA informed Postnoon that a major awareness campaign is in the offing to pursue this matter.
“Constant surveys and reports are being made with the help of the Lake Protection Committee that is working with the GHMC to save the lake from encroachments,” said Vivek Deshmukh, chief engineer and expert on environment, HMDA.
The fact of the matter remains that the once sizeable area of the lake has shrunk gradually, while authorities have overlooked this matter, as it involved fortunes in terms of revenue. The original size of the lake stood at 1,600 acres and later in 1995, when the National Remote Sensing Agency had surveyed the area, it had been reduced to 416 acres. In 2000, another survey by the then existing HUDA placed its size at 549 acres. What will become of the lake in future, is anybody’s guess.
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