Hyderabad: Truck after truck passes through the narrow bylanes of Memon Colony on the Mir Alam tank inner road at midnight. Residents initially ignored these vehicles passing through their streets, but became suspicious when this became the norm. It's been over a month, and the trucks are still making their way through the narrow lanes to the Tank bund.
The lake's size has decreased over the years due to massive encroachment by land grabbers with the assistance of officials, allege locals. "We didn't realise what was going on for several days. Every night, more debris is brought in and dumped, said Akbar (name changed on request).
Then, before they knew it, a compound wall had been built, with several demarcations on the debris that had now become a small piece of land. "We knew someone was up to something, but we were shocked at how fast and unabated the encroachment is," Mubin said (name changed on request).
The GHMC claims to have cleared the encroachments around Mir Alam tank, but locals claim that fresh debris is dumped regularly by land sharks. The encroachment of the Mir Alam tank land has resulted in creating an overflow of water during heavy rains and flooding the surrounding area including the Nehru Zoological Park nearby.
Despite numerous representations to end the illegal encroachment, the state government has taken no action. A few encroachers maintain a perpetual vigil by squatting on chairs near the Mir Alam Tank Bund and cocking a snook at the officials.
When asked if the locals sought police assistance, he replied, "Cops and bureaucrats work hand in hand with politicians. Our pleas to stop encroachment in 2019 fell on deaf ears. Today, the politicians' henchmen keep a close eye on who comes and goes in the area. Anyone who shows up with a phone is questioned."
Akbar took this correspondent to the top floor of a nearby under construction building to demonstrate how the ground level of the encroached area is the same as the terrace of a one-storey building. When a concerned citizen visited the tank a week ago to inquire if the people working there had the necessary permissions, his phone was taken, videos and pictures containing evidence were deleted, and some 'higher-ups' were called to ensure the man would never return.
Just as Akbar was about to flee the area before the henchmen returned, he remembered what a lawyer arguing in an encroachment case had asked in court: "Does land give birth? So, how do the areas expand out of nowhere?" According to environmentalists, land sharks and powerful individuals with vast political clout, nearly destroyed the lake. As encroachments increased, authorities paid little or no attention to court orders.
While the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority stated that lakes are under the jurisdiction of the GHMC, GHMC officials were unavailable for comment....