Disaster looming on Hyderabad, thanks to govt decision to scrap GO 111

Hyderabad: The state government’s decision to withdraw GO 111, that afforded protection to the twin lakes of Osmansagar and Himayatsagar, will spell disaster to the city of Hyderabad, experts said, adding that the decision smacked of lack of understanding of management of waterbodies and displayed confusion among decision-makers who appear to be bent upon immediate urban development with no thought of the consequences.

According to experts on the subject of lake management and environment activists who have fought for long for protection of the two lakes, the government appeared to have forgotten that the lakes were built as flood control systems to protect the city that exists downstream by the then Nizam government following the disastrous 1908 floods in the Musi river.

“It is surprising that this government, which has no track record of saving a single lake in the city, talks about protecting Osmansagar and Himayatsagar while allowing development around them. One just has to look at Hussainsagar in the middle of the city and all its promises to revive it. What happened in that instance? What does it think will happen to the two largest freshwater lakes of the city,” asked noted environmentalist Prof. K. Purushottam Reddy.

Though the government had earlier said that it will build some 24 sewage treatment plans to ensure ‘cleaned’ water enters Osmansagar and Himayatsagar post development of the areas around the water bodies, the very functioning of the STPs set up so far leave much to be desired, B.V. Subba Rao, technical member on lakes and reservoirs in the Bureau of Indian Standards’ water domain section, said. “No sewerage treatment plant functions properly in the city. Take the example of Mir Alam tank. The STP lets out nitrates and phosphates into the water and water hyacinth thrives in the tank. We do not have the systems in place to remove these chemicals, most of which come from wash water using detergents,” he said.

There are several important questions with regard to lifting of the GO 111, experts said. The stakeholders, according to the experts, are not just those living in the 84 villages in the buffer zone of the lakes who the government has promised of inclusion in ‘development’ – in other words, a construction boom and elevated land values.

“Those living in Hyderabad city are also stake-holders. These lakes were primarily built as flood control measures. We have had repeated demonstration in the past decade of what floods can do to the city. Being downstream (of the lakes) means people in the city are as much of stakeholders as those who have been promised development,” Subba Rao said.

“Whether it is polluted water, or plain rain water, the question is why is this government exposing the entire city to floods once the development occurs and concretization happens all around the two lakes,” he asked.

Prof. Purushottam Reddy said: “A green city was promised once GO 111 is lifted. There is no talk of this now and this is because those in this government cannot agree what it should be. The Supreme Court previously talked about the ‘precautionary principle’ when it upheld GO 111. Now by declaring that this GO is being lifted, the Telangana government has indulged in nothing short of dereliction of its duty, tantamounting to treason, and crime against its own people.”

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
Next Story