Snatched and Snared by Land Sharks and politicos

Locales of the serene Kapra Lake have often been hotspots for shooting movies. The evergreen movie ‘Dhaana Veera Sura Karna’ starring NT Rama Rao was filmed at this lake and its vicinity. Over the last decade or so, the water body has been peppered by high rises, as it’s a perfect residential address - quiet, calm, clean and luxurious.  But amidst this sea of tranquility, the lake now stands out as a sore thumb. 


 

Encroachment has now cast its ugly shadow over the lake. Many illegal houses have also been constructed with the connivance of local leaders and their muscle power is taking a heavy toll on this lake. With garbage strewn around and the pungent smell of decaying waste, it’s no wonder that the lake has been branded as highly polluted... 

We will have to digress from the subject of how files are ‘built up’ in GHMC and HMDA offices and talk about the significance of simians in decision making. For the death of beautiful lakes is often by the hands of humans.  And here simians played a key role.

 A detailed report submitted by the HMDA and the GHMC to the Lokayukta in October, mentioned that there are 266 lakes in the city for which Full Talk Level (FTL) demarcation has been completed and 258 lakes have been identified for beautification by the GHMC.  However, the report fails to provide information on the concrete action being taken against the encroachment of lakes. The officials said that they had called for public objections regarding this and were awaiting their inputs. Not convinced by the report, the Lokayukta has posted the matter for hearing on January 7, 2014, and have asked the officials to submit a complete report.

 Kapra Lake is one of the lakes, which faces the brunt of encroachment on an alarming scale. Public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Srinivas Yadav, a lawyer at the AP High Court, mentions that Raja Reddy, Uppal MLA, was minting money from the public, under the garb of construction of a temple at the lake premises. Speaking to HMTV, Srinivas alleged that due to encroachment, the size of the lake had reduced from 113 acres to nearly 70 acres, now. He added that the contractors and officials had colluded to gulp down Rs 4 lakh granted by the AP government for cleaning algae in the lake.

"For many years the lake at Kapra has served as livelihood to the families of Gangaputra community. Now the plight of the lake is pathetic. The pond is filled with mildew, algae and trash thrown by residents surrounding the lake," he said. 

Satish, a resident of Kapra, who had been raising his voice against lake encroachment, said that G Bal Reddy had encroached the land around Kapra Lake, and set up the Carnival Club, a tennis court, an indoor stadium which was under construction and Maithri Enclave. An inspection by any layman can reveal the fact that the kuchcha road which is the passage way to Maithri Enclave is fresh and has been made on the lake by dumping mud and sand right over the lake. And all these areas have sign boards which audaciously say, “This land is a property of G Bal Reddy and others.” 

Satish informed, “The tennis court and the indoor stadium which was now being constructed were in the same Shikham patta survey numbers which was a part of Kapra lake according to the survey conducted by HUDA back in 2002-03. Now all these have become a property of G Bal Reddy.”

 “The FTL stones have been moved inside four times in the last two years due to pressure from the land sharks. Land grabbing is occurring on a daily basis at the lake by filling it with solid stones and sand. Already the villas have crushed the lake underneath and the land grabbers are shaping up even more colonies,” he informed.

According to Chakri, a member of Save Our Urban Lakes (SOUL), Maithri Enclave and SS Enclave stand on the HMDA Urban Forestry land. He informed, “It was only after the survey conducted in 2002 that people started talking about the lake being encroached. The survey had stated that the lake was in the area of 113 acres, but it was originally 126 acres and encroachments on the lake were redundant.” 

 NVSS Prabhakar, state general secretary, Bharatiya Janata Party, in an interview in Hyderabad Hans had said, “With the feeder channels of the lake also getting encroached, it is going dry. Encroachers are dumping mud and debris right in the middle of the lake to pave way for encroachment later. Encroachment has also led to ground water levels plummeting to 1,200 feet in the area and nearly 50,000 borewells have also gone dry.”

 “On one hand, the government talks of creating artificial lakes under the Pranahita Chevella project, while the GHMC and HMDA officials are least bothered to protect the natural lakes,” Prabhakar added.

With the feeder channels of the lake also getting encroached, it is going dry. Encroachers are dumping mud and debris right in the middle of the lake to pave way for encroachment later. Encroachment has also led to ground water levels plummeting to 1,200 feet in the area and nearly 50,000 borewells have also gone dry.