Hyderabad: Several water bodies in the heart of the city have been drained and occupied and turned into residential colonies over the years. The city lost over 3,000 lakes and water bodies during the 1990s after the state government passed an order that water bodies less than 10 acres in size were not to be considered as lakes or kuntas.
Water bodies including Nawab Sahed Kunta, Mir Jumla (Talab Katta), Bhatkammakunta, Yousufguda Cheruvu, Shamalakunta, Masab Tank, and several others have disappeared completely.
Surprisingly, some of them were encroached upon while the others were officially converted to residential areas by the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority and the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation.
Responding to a PIL filed by K.L. Vyas, the AP High Court in the mid-nineties asked the then Hyderabad Urban Development Authority to submit the record pertaining to the number of lakes in the city. The HUDA authorities said in a reply to the High Court that they had not maintained any records pertaining to lakes.
However, the HUDA came up with the idea of not considering water bodies under 10 acres in area as lakes and kuntas and suggested that they can be used for residential and commercial purposes. The HUDA even issued a government order in this regard, which has resulted in the disappearance of about 3,000 water bodies out of the 7,000 man-made and natural water bodies.
As a result, the Mir Jumla Kunta in Talab Katta has become Bhavani Nagar, Shamalkunta in Ameerpet has become Sundar Nagar, and other kuntas like Nawab Saheb Kunta, Bhatkammakunta, Masab Kunta, Yousufguda Cheruvu and several others have completely disappeared.
Environmental specialist B.V. Subba Rao said that if the encroachment does not stop and if the existing water bodies are further encroached upon, then, in 15 years from now, Hyderabad will face the most dangerous floods in low lying areas which will not only disturb the biodiversity in the areas but also inundate the residential colonies for days with the resultant mosquito menace, bad sanitation, water entering cellars of apartments, and widespread communicable diseases.
He added that the Musi river has not flooded yet as there are still some channels connected to it that are free from encroachments. Mr Subba Rao said that if the government does not wake up now, then Hyderabad is in for a major disaster eventually.