Hussainsagar, along with Mir Alam Tank and Jeedimetla lakes, used to be a major drinking water source for city residents in the 1860s. (Representational file photo)
HYDERABAD: After Hussainsagar, Mir Alam Tank and Jeedimetla lake, the twin reservoirs would cease to be sources of drinking water in less than a year, if the GO 111 would be scrapped, claimed the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWSSB) officials.
Hussainsagar, along with Mir Alam Tank and Jeedimetla lakes, used to be a major drinking water source for city residents in the 1860s. Post Musi floods in 1908, authorities constructed twin reservoirs in 1920s for not only regulating the flood water but also for water storage, which quenched the thirst of city residents for a century. Authorities said the twin water bodies would die a slow death even if the construction activity was restricted in a 5 km radius from the existing 10 km radius.
Hussainsagar was built in 1575 by Sultan Ibrahim Kutb Shah at a cost of about Rs 2.5 lakh. When full, the water-spread covered an area of about 20.71 sq km and it was the source of water for the British Residency and suburbs north of the Musi river. The authorities later constructed two pipelines to draw raw water and supply treated drinking water to residents by constructing a water treatment plant (WTP) at Narayanguda in the 1860s. The Mir Alam Tank on the outskirts of the city built way back in 1806, is still considered an engineering marvel, created by the first multiple-arch dam in the world. However, these water bodies were no more useful for drinking water purposes due to urbanisation as the industrial effluents and sewage inflow contaminated the water bodies and made them unfit for drinking. Flash floods in the Musi forced the authorities to construct twin reservoirs. Osmansagar was constructed in 1920 and Himayatsagar in 1927 for regulating floods and for water storage.
To safeguard vital drinking water sources, GO 111 was issued on March 8, 1996 prohibiting polluting industries, major hotels, residential colonies or other establishments that generate pollution, in the catchment of the lakes up to 10 kms radius of full tank level of the lakes. It said a whopping 60 per cent of the total area should be kept as open space and roads in all layouts in the villages of the catchment area. The land use of about 90 per cent of the area is classified as recreational and conservation use in the Master Plan. The then Hyderabad Urban Development Authority should take action for the classification of this 90 per cent of the area as agriculture which is inclusive of horticulture and floriculture, the order said.
However, about 80 years later, Osmansagar dried up in the second week of February 2003 making it difficult for the HMWSSB to draw any more water for drinking purposes. This reservoir has a catchment area of about 738 sq. km. The Himayatsagar, which has a catchment area of about 689 sq. km, more or less dried up for the first time in the last week of June 2003. Thus, the two large reservoirs and the oldest sources of drinking water for Hyderabad dried up two decades ago.
Post this, the erstwhile governments kept an eye on 1.36 lakh acres land in 84 villages in the purview of GO 111. In the 10 kms radius, cutting across the party lines, politicians apart from industrialists and realtors illegally occupied the lands. Once the GO 111 is revoked, the area would see a rapid development resulting in the death of the lakes.
A senior HMWSSB official requesting anonymity told Deccan Chronicle that it was a policy decision to revoke the GO 111. He said now it was an open secret that everybody knows who would benefit if the GO was scrapped. The official said the lakes would eventually die a slow death even though the constructed activity was restricted to 5 km after revising the GO 111. He said that the high-power committee would reduce the construction buffer area from 10 km to 5 km.