Biggest disaster for Hyderabad if GO 111 goes: Rajendra Singh

Singh said that environmentalists might move the Supreme Court, if need be

The Telangana government’s decision to scrap GO 111 that accorded protection to the twin lakes of Osmansagar and Himayatsagar will be the “biggest disaster for Hyderabad,” the Waterman of India, Rajendra Singh, has said, adding that environmentalists might move the Supreme Court, if need be.

“Hyderabad,” he told, “has become a cement and concrete forest with increasing numbers of high-rise buildings and no sources of oxygen. There is a twodegree temperature rise because of these cement concrete buildings,” noted Rajendra Singh, the Magsaysay Award in 2001 and Stockholm Water Prize in 2015 winner.

“But, worse, they are scrapping this GO. This is a big disaster to the city. There will be no greenery after that. The whole area in the protected zone around the two lakes will be under concrete buildings. There will be no soil protection.”

He said, “This is not just an issue about water. This is an issue about the ecosystem, an issue of the entire ecosystem around the lakes.”
“It was back in 1996 that Anna Hazare and I were advisers on water conservation for the Chandrababu Naidu government, when the GO was issued.

“At that time, we were really fighting for water conservation. We boldly suggested to Naidu that if he doesn’t protect the catchment areas, the lakes cannot be kept alive or rejuvenated. Naidu listened to us and had this GO issued,” he said.

“We were very fortunate when this soil, greenery, and water conservation orders were issued by the then government. Now it is a disaster,” he said. "I am surprised why the Telangana Chief Minister is doing this. I keep asking myself in my mind, what is he doing? If you destroy the catchment area, you destroy the lakes. This is a really bad feeling for me,” the Waterman of India said. After the March 15 announcement in the Telangana Assembly by Chief Minister Chandrashekar Rao, about the state’s plan to scrap GO 111, Rajendra Singh was quick to take to Twitter to denounce the move.

Referring to the statement that the government was waiting for a report from an expert committee, Rajendra Singh said, “This means the CM has already decided to do it and I don’t believe in the (report from the) expert committee appointed by him, which will be tailor-made to suit the purpose of the government and not intended to protect the water bodies.”

Revoking GO 111 would mean going against the Supreme Court verdict in the 2001 case of ‘Hinch Lal Tiwari vs Kamala Devi and Others’ in a PIL, as well as several other judgments given by the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal, Singh said in a statement. “If KCR wants, he can shift the people of these 84 villages from the catchment area and keep the area free for the prestigious Himayatsagar and Osmansagar lakes. Thus he can become a role model for other chief ministers,” he said.

Rajendra Singh also rejected the claim that there will be water for the city for the next 100 years, saying: “The CM cannot say he has enough water for the next 100 years based on water pumped artificially into these lakes. Further, the state is constitutionally obligated to protect and improve the natural resources under Article 48-A of the Constitution. He cannot escape from it.”

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