It would seem like the Telangana government has no intention of preserving the historic Osman Sagar reservoir, which once provided drinking water to the city of Hyderabad in the early 20th century.
Built in 1920 after the Musi floods of 1908, the reservoir, also known as the Gandipet lake, holds immense historical and environmental significance.
The lake was artificially built by damming the Musi river at a higher level, so that the water required would flow to the areas of Hyderabad, naturally, with the help of gravity.
However, recent reports suggest that the lake may soon cease to exist.
Photos released by environmental activists suggest that the state has gone ahead and built a road right inside the Full Tank Level (FTL) of the lake, near Kanapur village on the Shankarpally road.
“Hyderabad now has been deprived of the sweet waters of Gandipet. Previously, we received 40 MGD per day from Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar. We are positive that we can continue cherishing the sweet waters of these balancing reservoirs, if civil society, officials, elected representatives, ministers and judiciary work together, for its conservation,” Save Our Urban Lakes (SOUL), said in a statement.
“How many more drinking water lakes are we going to be sacrificed for constructions?” they added.
It is not just the road that has the environmentalists worried.
A fresh investigation by environmentalist Thakur Rajkumar Singh, who has filed a petition with the National Green Tribunal (NGT), found another troubling development.
According to Singh, the fencing of the reservoir being carried out by the Cyberabad police commissionerate as part of the ‘Save Gandipet project’ excludes the buffer zone and part of the FTL.
“For any lake, on one side there is a bund and all the other three sides are open with a gradual slope. By this fencing and track-laying, the lake will be killed like Hussain Sagar was. In the name of ‘Save Gandipet’ project by the Cyberabad police – for which the government has sanctioned Rs 25 crore – fencing is being done inside the lake bed, excluding even the buffer zone. There is a complete stay ordered by the NGT on all construction in the GO 111 notified area. In spite of such clear orders, fencing work is going on,” Singh told Deccan Chronicle.
In fact, Singh had earlier told The Hindu that close to 12,500 illegal structures have come up in violation of GO 111, which protects the catchment area of Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar reservoirs.
GO 111 was an order issued in 1996, which “prohibits industries, major hotels, residential colonies or other establishments that generate pollution in the catchment of Himayatsagar and Osmansagar, up to 10 km from the full tank level (FTL) of the lakes.”
This was done to protect the lakes, which supplied water to Hyderabad.
However, the Telangana government has drawn the ire of activists after it sought to review the GO, stating that the lakes were no longer used to supply water, and it was hindering the process of development.
The state government has also made several efforts to weaken the GO, activists claim.