Himayat, Osmansagar in peril

Himayat, Osmansagar in peril
Highlights

If you think the lack of rain is the only reason for the sorry state of Himayatsagar Lake, you are mistaken. Industrialists, landlords, political leaders cutting across parties and the owners of farms abutting the lake have been digging bore wells and trenches within the full tank level obstructing the natural flow of water into the lake.

50 borewells, hundreds of trenches have been dug all along the feeder channels right up to the mouth of the lake by VIPs having bungalows and farm houses around the area

Hyderabad: If you think the lack of rain is the only reason for the sorry state of Himayatsagar Lake, you are mistaken. Industrialists, landlords, political leaders cutting across parties and the owners of farms abutting the lake have been digging bore wells and trenches within the full tank level obstructing the natural flow of water into the lake. Alarmingly, more than 50 bore wells and hundreds of trenches have been dug all along the feeder channels right up to the mouth of the lake.

The Hans India team during their survey of the nearly dry lake found that trenches have been dug in violation of all norms, including GO 111. In spite of irrigation minister T Harish Rao’s orders after a high-level meeting last year with officials of GHMC, HMDA, Pollution Control Board, Ranga Reddy district collector and other officials, violations are rampant right within the Full Tank Level (FTL).

Though GO 111 stipulates protection of catchment areas of the lake since 1996, trenching and encroachments in and around the lake are going on unabated. What is more, the Irrigation Minister had also granted Rs 64 crore for the protection of both Himayatsagar and Osmansagar. When questioned, officials of all departments concerned gave a standard answer, "We have not received complaints, but will take action as and when we receive them."

While officials feign ignorance, the lake that has been one of the main sources of water to the city is dying bit by bit. Himayatsagar Lake protection manager M Venkat Rao admitted that there were trenches and illegal bore wells within the FTL and also in the catchment areas of Himayatsagar.

He said they could resist or curb trenching only to certain extent due to political pressure. He lamented that officials have been mere spectators to violations resorted to by local residents (read VIPS). The feeder canals have been trenched and diverted through several minor canals in the FTL, which blocks water from entering the reservoir, even during monsoon. This is clearly visible in Google maps.

Venkat Rao further said that Esi (tributary of Musi), which carries water from Tandur has been the only major water source for Himayatsagar. Esi canal has been subjected to several encroachments and diversions prior to its entrance into the reservoir, he said.

Rao, however, added that encroachments, trenches and diversions cannot stop the flow of water if the rainfall is heavy.Lake protection and water management expert B V Subba Rao is of the opinion that the city is losing at least 2.5 crore litre per day from both the reservoirs due to trenching and illegal bore wells in the vicinity of the twin reservoirs -- Himayatsagar and Osmansagar of.

On an average, about 2.81 crore litre per day is supplied from Himayatsagar and Osmansagar lakes to residents in the city. However, there has been no water supply from these lakes since December 2015. A situation is not far away when in 1987, the city faced a similar predicament and people were forced to vacate houses due to severe water problem.

Responding to queries on trenches in Himayatsagar Lake, Shamshabad Mandal Revenue Officer K Venkat Reddy said nothing related to trenches was brought to his notice. He, however, said that he would direct the Village Revenue Officer to carry out a field visit to gather information on these trenches.

Water Board officials too said that they would be undertaking a field visit soon. It is not just trenching and borewells, but also active stone quarries that are less than a km from the Himayatsagar Lake which have been hindering the water flow to the lake.

Subba Rao opined that norms in the Lake Protection Act should be regulated and about 700 km should be brought under the catchment area. Way back in 1994, S P Shorey who headed a committee on the lakes cautioned, “Any future water supply scheme to Hyderabad involves high investment besides considerable operation and maintenance expenses.

Hence, there is absolute need to safeguard the existing sources like Himayatsagar, Osmansagar, Manjeera and Singur reservoirs”.Alarm bells are ringing for Himayatsagar and Osmansagar. Are the authorities listening?

By Maddy Deekshith

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