Date: 19.3.2009

To
The Member Secretary
A.P.P.C.B
Sanath nagar
HYDERABAD

Sir,
Sub: Patancheruvu Pollution. Bhopal - in the making in Hyderabad?

We enclose a news item published in the Hindu of 17 th Feb, 2009, the contents of which are self explanatory. We shall appreciate if you can let us know what steps have been taken or proposed to be taken to stop the possible ecological disaster in Hyderabad
Thanking you,
Yours faithfully,
M.VEDAKUMAR
President Forum for a Better Hyderabad
 
Date: 18.3.2009

To
The Vice Chairman
Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority
Greenlands Guest House
Begumpet
HYDERABAD

Sir,
We have come to know that the water body adjoining Taj Banjara Hotel on Road No.1, Banjara Hills is being filled up. A recent photograph is enclosed. Please let us know:

1.The facts of the case

2. Whether such filling up has been authorized and if so by whom

3.What steps have been/are been taken by you to prevent the filling up of the water body and its full restoration, IMMEDIATELY

In due course the penal action proposed to be taken by you against the violators of the WALTA for filling up the lake
As the matter is urgent kindly give top priority for submitting the information
Thanking you
M.MANDAL
Convenor,
Right to Information Act Forum for a Better Hyderabad
 
Date: 18.3.2009

To
The General Manager
Hotel Taj Banjara
Road No.1, Banjara Hills
HYDERABAD

Sir,

We have come to know that the water body adjoining Taj Banjara Hotel on Road No.1, Banjara Hills is being filled up. A recent photograph is enclosed. Please let us know :

1.The facts of the case

2.Whether such filling up has been authorized and if so by whom

3.Whether you have taken any steps to prevent the filling up of the water body and for its full restoration.
As the matter is urgent kindly give top priority for submitting the information.

Thanking you,

M.MANDAL
Convenor,
Right to Information Act Forum for a Better Hyderabad
 
Date: 18.3.2009

To
The Chief Information Officer
Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority
Greenlands Guest House
Begumpet
HYDERABAD

Sir,
We have come to know that the water body adjoining Taj Banjara Hotel on Road No.1, Banjara Hills is being filled up. A recent photograph is enclosed. Under the Right to Information Act, 2005 please let us know:

5. The facts of the case
6.Whether such filling up has been authorized and if so by whom
7.What steps have been/are been taken by you to prevent the filling up of the water body and its full restoration, IMMEDIATELY
•  In due course the penal action proposed to be taken by you against the violators of the WALTA for filling up the lake
As the matter is urgent kindly give top priority for submitting the information
Thanking you,

M.MANDAL
Convenor,
Right to Information Act Forum for a Better Hyderabad
 
Date: 10.11.2008

To

Dr.Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy
Hon’ble Chief Minister
Government Of Andhra Pradesh
Secretariat
HYDERABAD

Respected Sir,
Sub: Real Estate mafia –– Threats to noted Environmentalist Dr.S. Jeevananda Reddy to withdraw PIL on GO 111 – Action sought

Dear Sir,

At the outset we would like to thank you for taking a stand that GO 111 protecting Osman Sagar and Himayath Sagar will not be modified.

We bring to your notice an incident of grave nature, one which attempts to strike at the core of Environmental movement in Hyderabad city. We have been advocating for a sustainable and eco-friendly development in the capital city of Andhra Pradesh. We try to reason and advocate with concerned people, bureaucrats and people’s representatives. Though we have on occasions disagreed with the authorities over several issues, we have always adopted a democratically accepted form of protest and have been a law abiding group of individuals and organizations . On certain unavoidable circumstances we had to approach the court of law to obtain justice to our cause.

It is in this context that we felt the need to protect Osman Sagar and Himayath Sagar from gross violations by persons looking only at short term gains and in the process choking the water flow and polluting the water in these lakes.

Our friend Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy, a strongly committed and noted environmentalist filed a case in the High Court praying for strict implementation of the GO Ms No 111 dt 8th March 1996 for conservation of these lakes. The G.O covers these lakes and areas in 10km radius around them. The Writ Petition, though filed in the name of Dr.S.Jeevanada Reddy, is filed at the instance of Forum for Sustainable Development (FSD) of which he is the secretary and other concerned citizens. The Forum For A Better Hyderabad has also independently filed another WP to protect the G.O. 111.

GO 111 is very comprehensive and has come out as a result of a Technical committee recommendations headed by experts from HMWS&SB and was also upheld by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Civil Appeals Nos. 368-371/99. The GO in question has been under pressure from various real estate groups who are trying to get it either annulled or modified, so as to allow them to gain a lot of benefit in financial terms. The gain ,though momentary, will permanently be negated by the loss of these two drinking water reservoirs which are the Twin Guardian angels of our city. Their protection is also very important in view of the plans to use them as storage reservoirs for the water to be brought from Godavari River.

Dr.S.Jeevananda Reddy received a letter of threat by post on 5th November from unknown persons, claiming to be Rayalaseema Factionists, that he and his family members will be eliminated , if W.P is not withdrawn within three days. This is nothing but real estate mafia at work which has enormously grown and rooted itself around land deals in around Hyderabad and are after nothing but easy money and manifesting itself in ugliest form.

We strongly condemn such threats and vow that we will not be cowered down by this bullying and rowdyism. There are enough of us concerned citizens who will carry forward the struggle. We will not shun away our responsibilities and will do everything we can to protect our cause and comrades.

The Forum for Sustainable Development (FSD) has filed a complaint in writing with the Inspector of Police, Jubilee Hills Police Station on 6 th November 2008, enclosing a copy of the letter of threat and requesting protection to Dr.S.Jeevananda Reddy and his family members. The matter has also been brought to the notice of the Chief Secretary, the Principal Secretary to the Chief minister, and the Hyderabad Police Commissioner. We, however, request you to take a grave view of this threat to muffle the voice of NGOs by the mafia. If not thwarted in time, this may grow into a trend to suppress any civil society movement by threat or use of violence.. We, therefore, request you to order a thorough enquiry into the matter to get to the bottom of the issue and take appropriate action. We also request you to instruct the concerned authorities to provide security to our colleague and his family on a priority basis without any delay. We shall be grateful to get a swift reaction from your office,

Names of organizations: | FBH (Forum for a better Hyderabad) |COVA| CHATRI | COALITION FOR PEACE AND HORMONY | APNA VATAN | AMAN VEDIKA | MAUP | PUCCAR | U-FERWAS | FAPSCO Ÿ IFHD Ÿ HUM SAB HINDUSTANI | IAAB (Indian Association of Aquatic Biologists, Hyderabad) | APSA (Association for Promoting Social Action) | NAPM (National Alliance for Public Movement) | GAMANA | Right to Walk Foundation | HELP HYDERABAD


Thanking you,

C.C to: 1. Sri.Jana Reddy, Hon’ble Home Minister, Govt.of A.P., Hyd.
2. Sri.P.Ramakanth Reddy, IAS., Chief Secretary, Govt.of A.P., Hyd
3. Sri.S.S.P.Yadav,IPS., Director General of Police, Lakdi-ka-pool, Hyd.
4. Sri.B.Prasada Rao, IPS., Commissioner of Police, Police Control Room, Basheerbagh, Hyd.

PRESS RELEASE
We have come across reports in different local newspapers today i.e., 20.10.2008, that the State Government is open to/ considering amendments in G.O.111. A petition filed by Forum for a Better Hyderabad and other petitions have already been heard and are pending with the Hon’ble A.P.High Court. Accordingly, it will be incorrect or and improper to introduce any amendment in the G.O.111 as the matter is pending with the court.
M.VEDAKUMAR
President, Forum For A Better Hyderabad
 
Date: 21.10.2008
To
Sri.K.S.Jawahar Reddy, IAS.,
The Metropolitan Commissioner
Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority
Green Lands Guest House, Ameerpet
Hyderabad

Dear Sir,
Sub: Re-iteration of our suggestions and recommendations on
proposed law for protecting Himayath Sagar and Osman Sagar.

Ref: Our meeting on 3.10.2008

At the outset we would like to thank you, for inviting us to the above referred meeting and hope HMDA will continue this process of dialogue/consultation where the opinions/suggestions of civil society groups are important for the overall success of a government plan.

We would like to summarize the points laid out by our members at the meeting for your reference and perusal.

1.No commercial activities of polluting nature are to be allowed in all the three components of the lake ecosystems viz., Basin/water shed/catchment, Water Body and Down stream area defined by GO 111. The commercial activities particularly happening in the name of resorts have to be checked immediately and legal proceedings have to be initiated against violators.

2.Penalties on violations by any professional groups have to be dealt firmly and blacklisting or deregistering them should be done on top priority.

3.Existing violations in terms of layouts, constructions like residential houses, villas, commercial, institutional, recreational and industries etc., should not be regularized and legal proceedings have to be initiated.

4.A high level committee on the lines of Heritage Conservation Committee in HUDA or Consent For Establishment/Consent For Operation committee in APPCB with representatives from key departments and civil society has to be constituted which will on a quarterly basis review actual scenario on enforcement of GO 111.

5.All projects, as are permissible under the GO in the catchments, above a suitable financial limit have to be cleared by the above committee.

6.Obstruction to the inflow of water by check dams constructed by Govt. agencies should be removed immediately.

7.All the 22 Nalas feeding both the reservoirs have to be identified (with the help of modern technologies like Global Positioning System (GPS) and remote sensing), marked and cleared of all obstructions. A no-construction buffer zone of 50-100 meters has to be demarcated all along their route to prevent obstructions and pollution.

8.Decentralized, ecologically sustainable sewage treatment systems have to be encouraged in the catchment habitations by a suitably designed subsidy policy to avoid ground and surface water contamination of the lakes.

9.Reports by EPTRI on upstream and downstream should be made public immediately without any further delay to uphold values of transparency and good governance as envisioned in RTI.

10.Organic farming has to be made mandatory in the upstream area (lake basins) and all possible incentives have to be immediately declared to help the farmers make the transition. This will prevent pollution of water in both the reservoirs from pesticides and fertilizers.

11.The upstream area can be promoted into a certified agriculture export zone and incentives on the lines adopted for Special Economic Zone’s may be given to make agriculture more remunerative and sustainable for the farmers.

12.Funding has to be provided to revive the reserve forests in the catchment areas of both these reservoirs and classifying the same as protected areas/national parks can be looked into to provide the same further protection. This will help in better inflows into the reservoirs.

13.To meet rising commercial aspirations of people in the lake basin/catchment, a synergy needs to be developed between basin communities and urban population through introduction of eco-friendly activities (Cycling routes/ hiking activities/ organic markets/ Nature trails etc.).

14.The cases of two drinking water reservoirs in Mumbai (Tulsi and Vihar) may please be studied as models for protecting Osmanagar and Himayatsagar. The two Mumbai water bodies are so well protected that there is absolutely no chance of any pollution/ degradation with very well protected basins, water bodies and down stream zones.

The above are a few of our suggestions. The most important suggestion apart from the above is that the proposed law should have very stringent penalty provisions, not merely financial, on violation of it and there have to be clearly established norms for fixing the responsibility on errant officials.

We hope that proposed Ordinance will further strengthen the existing GO 111. Further HMDA will share with us the first draft of the proposed ordinance as promised by you in the meeting. We also hope that our suggestions will be examined with a fair view and suitable provisions will be incorporated in the law to operationalise them.

Thanking you,
Yours sincerely,
M.VEDAKUMAR
President, Forum For A Better Hyderabad

 
28th June 2008
Dr. K.S. Jawahar Reddy, I.A.S.
The Vice –Chairman
Hyderabad Urban Development Authority
Hyderabad
      Sir,
      Sub: Illegal encroachment by BPPA in Hussain Sagar Lake.
With reference to the above subject we would like to express our extreme unhappiness about the encroachment by BPPA into Hussain Sagar lake opposite to Prasad’s IMAX and adjacent to Khairatabad Fly-over. We have come to know that leaving some area for a pool like structure the other part of lake bed of Hussain Sagar in the mentioned area is proposed to be developed into a park and recreation centre. This is in complete violation of various laws and legal notifications like WALTA, EP Act 1986, Master Plan of Hyderabad and HUDA notification of 4-5-2000 declaring 169 water bodies in and around Hyderabad as protected water bodies.

The area in question is part of Hussain Sagar Lake and cannot be filled up, completely or partially. It is not a separate pond removed from the original lake bed. Dredging or desilting cannot be used as a pretext to reclaim land by dumping silt from dredging into parts of lake elsewhere which is what seems to be happening right now. It has been reiterated that no extra land can be reclaimed from any portion of this lake as has been reiterated by A.P. High Court in Sri.P.V.Narasimha Rao Creation ground case.

The unfortunate part is that, institutions legally mandated to protect the lake like HUDA and BPPA which, you head are the ones responsible for this situation. There have been many instances of violations of laws and court orders intended for protection of this lake which needs to be protected at all costs considering the historical, ecological and heritage values of this grand water body.

The original Water Spread area of the lake, with catchment of about 300 Sq. km, was around1600 Hectares but it has shrunk considerably due to numerous encroachments both by private entities as well as public agencies. The most harmful encroachments have been by State agencies like HUDA and BPPA apart from tourism department and Municipal authorities. Most of them have been done in violation/subversion of court orders.

We quote two of the most important judgments by A.P. High Court regarding Hussain Sagar:

The A.P High Court in its Order dated 15-6-2001, in W.P. No. 26378 of 2000, concluded that “No further permanent structures, including those involving commercial activities, may be allowed to be raised on or near the Water Spread or Catchment area”

W. P. No. 13656 of 2003, judgment delivered on 16.10.2003: the operative part of the judgment is “the respondents are directed to take all possible measures to protect the water spread area of Hussain Sagar Lake both from private persons and the governmental authorities as required under law”.

It is very clear that the Honorable A.P. High Court ordered the conservation and protection of remaining water spread of the lake. The three member Supreme Court Committee also clearly recommended that the area in question be maintained as part of lake.
The present activity of developing a park will lead to further decrease in the water spread area and will contribute to the increased pollution of the lake which will be caused by increase in traffic and commercial activities.
We request you to immediately halt all activities and restore the lake spread area and initiate proceedings against errant officials who are responsible for this and hope that you will respond positively and quickly and ensure that the Rule of Law is protected and strengthened.
Cordially,

(Dr.Jasveen Jairath)
Convener – Subcommittee on Water Bodies
Cc to:
1) Chief Secretary, Govt. of A.P.
2) Principal Secretary, MA&UD, Govt. of A.P.
Date: 2.6.2008
The Vice Chairman
HUDA,
HYDERABADTo
        Sir,
Sub: Bam ki Bowdi located at Hasan Nagar.
Following a report appearing in the Hindu dated 14.4.2008, "Realtors eye royal spring" near Mir Alam Tank (paper cutting enclosed), Forum For A Better Hyderabad sent a team to the site and find out the facts. A route map to reach the site and photographs of Bam Ki Bowdi and a pond next to it. are attached.
Bam Ki Bowdi is a small natural pond or well located next to a natural spring which flows with water always. Bam Ki Bowdi is located in Hasan Nagar, beside H.P.Petrol Pump & Jai Bhavani Roads & Transport, No: 4-33/4/B Hasan Nagar Mandal: Rajendar Nagar. Dist: Ranga Reddy. It is about 1 k.m. from National Police Academy and about ½ k.m. from Mir Alam Tank. “Bam Ruknud Dowlah” is the original name to the pond/ well and in colloquial Language it is called “Bam Ki Bowdi”. The pond/ well has never gone dry for the last 12 years.
Beside this Bowdi there is “Janatha Swimming Pool” and HUDA Nursery.

By way of threats to Bam ki Bowdi, we observe:
• Boulders are being put into the well/pond ( please see photograph), and in course of time may fill up the pond/well.
• Constructions are coming up along the catchment area of the well/ pond - please see photographs - and these will prevent flow of water into the pond.
• These may indicate surreptitious effort for reclamation of the pond/well and the pond / well may disappear, unless the above actions are stopped forthwith.

We recommend as follows:
• Government land around the well/ pond should be clearly earmarked and protected.
• Even private land owners around the well/pond should be made to comply with the water laws and not allowed to change the land use or do any thing that may affect the pond/well.
• Encroachment on the catchment area should be removed immediately and no fresh encroachment allowed, irrespective of land ownership.
• The Well/pond should be recognized as a natural heritage. It must be protected as such with immediate effect. In due course, it should be notified as natural heritage by the Heritage Conservation Committee.
We request immediate action to save the water body
Yours faithfully,
(M.MANDAL)
Member, Heritage Cell
C.C: 1. The Collector, R.R.Dist., Hyderabad
2. The Commissioner & Special Officer, GHMC, Hyderabad
3. The Chairman, Heritage Conservation Committee, HUDA, Hyderabad
Water Bodies beside Bam ki Bowdi
Date: July 23 rd , 2007

PRESS NOTE

On behalf of various civil society organisations from Hyderabad and coordinated by Forum For Better Hyderabad a press conference was held with reference to the recent Draft Notification for G.O.111, issued by Govt. of A.P at 11am at press club Basheerbagh. The press meet was presided over by Sri.M.Vedakumar, President, Forum For A Better Hyderabad and he emphasized on the following demands, comments and suggestions to be considered for G.O.111.

1.Technical committee constituted by the Govt. to formulate the Notification.
a).Its composition should be made public as well its mandate.
b). Report of the committee should be made public.
c).Independent representation from CSO's such as the present group should be included in the Tech. committee secondly, this representation should be nominated by the present group and not hand picked by govt.

2.EPTRI Report: cited by the Notification should be made public.

3.Notification to G.O.111 should be withdrawn and cancelled unconditionally and G.O.111 should be upheld as such - with clear ban on any construction activity within 10 kms. Radius from FTL.

4.Integrated approach to management and conservation of these two lakes (as also others) should be adopted that considers catchment water body, command and other surrounding. Environment as an organic eco- system where any interference in one sub-space will upset the natural balance in the entire unit. Hohistin versus fragmentation perspective necessary due to:
a. These lakes are part of an organizing river and downstream developments will feed into & damage river Musi.

b.Flood control an essential purpose of creating these water bodies nearly 80yrs ago - will be throttled with crowding of downstream areas such as the old city.

c.Air pollution due to industries and residential areas impurity of the lakes will cause acidification of water body and consequent damage to a drinking water body.

5.The group would like to know what were the urgent and immediate compulsions/provocations for issuing the draft notification that relakes the restrictions civil construction by "freeing" downstream areas for by private agencies designed to increase concentration of wealth and inequity.

6.These two water bodies are closer to the city and provide a cheap and clean source of drinking water compared to technically complex and economically expensive distant sources from Krishna and godavari. Their destruction should be stopped and rational water planning to be undertaken.

7.Impact of downstream developments should include both direct and indirect consequences

8.Past experience with G.O.50 for regulating private real estate developments does not inspire confidence in capacity and intent of the govt. to enforce compliance with provisions of G.O's by penalizing those who violate. What is the basis of trust in the intent of govt. in case of the Notification to G.O.111/ that regates/over rules the positive, protective & safe guarding provisions of G.O.111.

9. There are strong reasons to believe that the Notification has been designed under pressure from real estate lobby that has assume considerable elute based on real estate boom of the last decade. Their political influence on such decisions stands exposed and corroborated beyond doubt by the statements of jubilation posted on the website of group of real estate developers. This group believes that contractors and real estate lobby will stand to gain astronomical amount if this Notification is issued at heavy cost to wider society. It is thus an undemonstrative and anti-social act.

10. Global perspective on water bodies advocates integrated conceptualization of water bodies and their surroundings. The Notification goes in direct opposition to what is agreed world wide & thus carries no weight.

11. There is no relation of the Notification with Master Plan. Rather than the Master Plan influencing developments according to a long term strategy - it is itself being propelled through co-opting the ad-hoc and random land use sanations real estate lobby. The group strongly advocates that all such notifications need to be considered in content of the objectives and goals of the agreed Master Plan -when it is finalized.

12. Major decisions should emerge after consultation with people's elected representatives - councilors, Mayor, RWA coordinators etc- as they are these major stakeholders. In the absence of such governance mechanism - all such decisions should be put on hold.

The Members from Forum For A Better Hyderabad and Civil Society groups have expensive their resentment and concerned on G.O.111 and instated the Govt. to act upon the above suggestions. The press meet came to an end with concluding remarks by Smt.Jasveen Jairath.

The Members of Forum and from civil society groups who attended the press meet and expressed their views on G.O.111 as follow;

Sri. Naram Krishna Rao.
Dr.M.S.Kodarkar.
Sri.Borugula Narsing rao.
Sri. Keshav rao jadav.
Dr..O.M.Debara
Smt.Jasveen jairat.
Smt.Sangamitramallik
Sri.R.K.Singh.
Sri.Umesh varma.
Smt.Saraswathi rao
Sri.Ashwaq.
Sri.B.V.S.Rao
Smt.K.Supriya.
Sri.S.Kiran.
Sri.D.N.Reddy.
Dr.C.Ramachandraiah.
Sri. Kulsum reddy.

From left to Right: Sri. Naram Krishna Rao, Sri.M.Vedakumar, Sri. Keshav rao jadav, Dr.M.S.Kodarkar.and Sri.Jeevan Kumar

22nd July 2007
To,
Dr. Sri.Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy
The Hon’ble Chief Minister
Government of Andhra Pradesh,
Hyderabad
Sub: - Proposed Draft Notification-Regulations for development-G.O.Ms.No.111,Ref: Memo.No.261/I1/2006 dated 16-07-2007 issued by MA&UD Department, GOAP.

Respected Sir,

As concerned citizens of city of Hyderabad we would like to share our misgivings, anxieties and concerns regarding the above Draft Notification.

To begin with - we wish to bring to your notice that a water body is influenced not only by activities in catchment areas and the lake itself but also in command area. That is why a holistic approach becomes very important particularly in case of lakes acting as drinking water sources - as in the case of Osmansagar and Himayatsagar – the two lakes in question. This is in conformity with professional understanding of lakes at the global level as reflected by two major documents World Lake Vision (WLV) – A Call to Action and (2) Integrated Lake Basin Management (ILBM – A report for Lake Basin Managers and Stakeholders- published by International Lake Environment Committee Foundation (ILEC), Japan, that have deeply influenced actions for conservation and management of lakes and reservoirs across the globe.

GO 111 is a comprehensive order that is in tune with International thinking, policymaking and administrative practices. It was a better instrument created taking in to consideration (a) water shed of Hyderabad region and (b) integrated approach for long-term sustainability of these lakes.

It is rather shocking to see proposed modifications with reference to down stream areas of these reservoirs. Proposed amendments go contrary to an ‘Integrated approach’ and Lake environment is being analyzed in fragmented way as up-stream, and down stream which is against global thinking, experience and practices. The amendment seems to be an exercise Government is forced to undertake under the pressure of vested interests. Implementation of these amendments will open floodgates to destructive developments and degradation and final destruction of these reservoirs that will go Hussainsagar way.

Specifically, we are opposed to the Draft Notification for following reasons:

First, all members of the committee that recommended the amendments were from Governmental organizations, without any representation to Civil Society and independent Academic institutions. It appears to be ‘For, Of and By’ the Government. This is unacceptable to us.

Make all relevant documents public and give sufficient time before the process is restarted

There was no public hearing or elicitation of opinion of civil society.

The areas proposed to be earmarked as per amendments for down stream construction activity – euphemistically referred to as “development” - have no scientific basis and arbitrary.

We demand comprehensive rethinking on the issue and with drawl of proposed amendments. It needs a statesman to steer destiny of a nation and we appeal to you (CM) to stop this whole negative process of private appropriation of natural resources for personal gain of few at the cost of stifling the historic lifeline of Hyderabad city.

We look forward to a citizen sensitive governance from you and hope that our views as above will receive due consideration as the matter is a serious public issue with grave implications for future generations.

Please find enclosed the following enclosures - Annexure – 1 (Detailed version of Suggestions/Objections), - Annexure – 2 (Letter of Sri.Capt.J.Rama Rao to Principal Secretary, MA&UD, dt: - 21st July, 2007)

Respectfully yours
FORUM FOR A BETTER HYDERABAD
&        
CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS
22nd June 2007
To,
The District Collector
Rangareddy District
Hyderabad
Dear Sir,
Sub: - Illegal Encroachment of lakes in Rangareddy District
After a series of articles appeared in various newspapers about various lakes being encroached the sub-committee on Water Bodies of Forum for a Better Hyderabad decided to investigate and verify facts. A visit was organized to some of the lakes on 16-06-2007.

The following lakes were visited and the observations follow: -

1)Durgam Cheruvu, Lingampally Mandal: The lake has a long history being choked by various encroachments. Recently HUDA has taken up construction of a STP(Sewerage Treatment Plant) of 10 MLD capacity. The construction was taken up within the lakebed further reducing the spread of the lake. We have observed that the lake is freshly being encroached by unidentified people adjacent to the STP by filling up the lake with huge boulders and soil. This we believe is being done for construction of buildings.

 
2) Medikunta Cheruvu, Lingampally Mandal: This is a small lake in Nanakram Guda opposite to Wipro Office. The lake is being encroached towards the roadside by filling it up with debris and stones. A small phone booth structure has already come up on the encroached land. If this is not checked the lake will disappear within no time.
 
Gangaram Pedda Cheruvu/Chandanagar Pedda Cheruvu Serilingampally Municipality:This lake is very big one and is one among the 169 lakes notified by HUDA for conservation. A huge layout is coming up on the boundary of this lake. A very high ranking official in the central government is allegedly trying to occupy the lake by filling up some portions of it. The local revenue authorities have actually come to the place a few days ago and took notes of the encroachments but apparently the authorities have not initiated any action against the violators. This lake faces another major problem, which is the entry of huge quantities of untreated sewage from surrounding lakes due to which the lake is subject to eutrophication and will lead to groundwater pollution.
 
4) Nallagandla Cheruvu, Lingampally Mandal: This Lake is being encroached by a private construction company by filling up with morrum soil in huge quantity and fencing up the area. The total extent of land looks quite substantial and according to a newspaper report it is around 19 acres. The revenue authorities here also have visited the place and they have asked the company in question to stop all activity. They have not taken any measures to clear the encroachment so far.
 
5) Ambeer Cheruvu, Dundigul Mandal: This Lake is being encroached by a private developer to build high rise apartments. The lake has well marked Full Tank Level (FTL) in spite of which the violation is being done. The lake is being filled up with stone boulders obtained by blasting sheet rock adjacent to the lake boundary. A road has already come up in the middle of the lake to provide access to people, which, is now being used to encroach the lake.
 
6) Gowlidoddi Cheruvu Lingampalli Mandal:This lake present in very serene surroundings is slowly being encroached by increasing real estate activity and runs a risk of being obliterated soon by them. Many plotting and wall construction activities have already encroached into the lakebed and the authorities have not taken any steps to reclaim the public land. The FTL has not been marked which is leading to further encroachments.

Sir, we request you as the top man of the district administration responsible for protection of these lakes, to take immediate action and prosecute the violators who are brazenly resorting to destruction of precious community resources. Hyderabad and surroundings which have a normally low ground water table owe this precious little quantity to the presence of these lakes which do a yeomen service to the common man by recharging ground water table and the improve the environmental quality of the surroundings. HUDA had issued a notification declaring 169 lakes in and around Hyderabad as water bodies slated for conservation and declared all construction activities illegal within a distance of 30 meters on all sides from FTL. We are noticing that leave alone the 30 meters buffer, even lake bed within FTL is being encroached.

Please initiate steps immediately to remove these encroachments, remove the material inside the lakes, punish the culprits and mark the FTL boundary of the lakes by permanent measures.

Thanking you,
Cordially,
Umesh Varma
Top
June 8, 2007
To
Shri.J.Harinarayan, IAS
Chief Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh,
AP Government Secretariat,
Hyderabad – 500 022
Dear Shri .J.Harinarayan,
7th Anniversary of the Forum For a Better Hyderabad and the
Observance of the World Environment day on 5.6.07
Sub: G.O. 111- A Bad Order, Not Practicable, Not the Solution?
We thank you for gracing our above meeting with your presence as the chief guest on the occasion of Forum For A Better Hyderabad’s 7th Anniversary and World Environment Day on 5th June 2007. Your appreciation for Forum’s activities and its involvement to protect environment is highly regarded. We are pleased to hear that, the Government looks forward to involve the Forum and NGOs.

In this connection, we refer to the parts of your speech: The G.O.111 is reported to have been termed as a bad order and not practicable and it is not the solution for protection of Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar lakes.

We would like to bring it at your kind notice few points about G.O.111:
The State Government after careful examination of the recommendations of the Expert Committee, prepared after detailed discussions and field visits, decided to reaffirm the 10 Km prohibition by issuing G.O.Ms.No.111.M.A. dated 8 th March 1996, in modification of the earlier orders issued in G.O.Ms.No. 192 MA dated 31-3-1994. The salient features in respect of catchment area are:

To prohibit polluting Industries, Major Hotels, Residential Colonies or other establishments that generate pollution, in the catchment of the lakes up to 10 Kmsfrom Full Tank Level (FTL)of the lakes. The land use of about 90 % of the area upto10 Kms in the catchment is to be classified as recreational and conservation use which is inclusive of horticulture and floriculture

One fails to see the impracticability for implementing the above, on which the State Administration has failed to act during the last 11 years, leading to present situation.

Supreme Court Order

The Hon’ble Supreme Court in its Order dated 1-12-2000, ruled that the government could not grant exemptions to the provisions of G.O.111 unmindful of the fate of lakhs of citizens of twin cities, to whom drinking water is supplied from these lakes. Such exemptions carelessly passed ignoring the “Precautionary Principle” could be catastrophic.

PIL in AP High Court
The A.P State Government represented by its Chief Secretary is Respondent No.1, in W.P 9386 / 2007 filed in Hon’ble AP High Court, regarding violations of the provisions of G.O.111. The additional information as directed by Hon’ble High Court, has since been submitted and W.P is likely to come up for hearing shortly.

At this stage the remarks of the Chief Secretary, by terming G.O.111 as a bad order, impracticable, not a solution for protection of the drinking water sources etc, are unwarranted and send a wrong message to the public, that too on “World Environment Day”. This may amount to interference with adjudication.

If what the Chief Secretary is reported to have stated is correct and reflects the views of the State Government, it is hoped that the same will be submitted before the Hon’ble AP High Court for appropriate adjudication of the case.

Thanking You,
Yours sincerely,
(M.VEDAKUMAR)
President, Forum For A Better Hyderabad
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TO Date:11.5.2007
Sri.L.Premchandra Reddy, IAS.,
The District Collector.
Ranga Reddy District
Dear Sir,
Sub: - Illegal Constructions and Encroachments in Musi River and Catchments
Area. Findings by a Fact Finding Team. Immediate Remedial Action needed.
Having come across reports in various newspapers and also from other sources of Illegal Constructions and Encroachments in Musi River and Catchments Area, the Forum for A Better Hyderabad sent a Fact Finding Team (FFT) to find out the actual situation. The FFT consisted of representatives of few other organizations/Individuals. The following are the members of the FFT.

1) Sri.M.Vedakumar Forum For A Better Hyderabad
2) Sri.OM Debara -do-
3) Smt.Jasveen Jairath -do-
4) Sri.Umesh Varma -do-
5) Prof.K.Muthyam Reddy Professor, Osmania University
6) Sri.K.Narasimha Reddy Bhongir Ex-MLA
7) Sister Selvin from CHATRI
8) Sri.Adarsh Srivastav Musi life group
9) Sri.P.Mahesh Musi life group
10) Ms.Kalyani.G Architect
11) Ms.Arshea Sultana Planner
12) Sri.G.Venkateshwar Rao Planner

Areas visited:
1) ORR Construction across Musi near Narsingi Cross Roads
2) Causeway near Gandipet Village across Musi
3) Site near Surplus Weir of Osman Sagar
4) Balkapur Nala near Manikonda Village
Our findings and recommendations are given in the following paragraphs.

1) CAUSEWAY NEAR GANDIPET VILLAGE ACROSS MUSI
An illegal causeway has been built in the river bed of Musi River. The news was published in Eenadu Newspaper Hyderabad Edition on 31st March 2007. (Page No.7 Newspaper clipping of Eaanadu) We verified the fact of the existence of illegal causeway. To the best of our knowledge and belief this was taken up without the permission of any authority. The Causeway encroaches into the riverbed and can cause obstruction and thus flooding in Gandipet Village. Photograph No.1 on Page 1 is enclosed for your reference.

RECOMMENDATION:The illegal cause way has to be immediately destroyed without any delay and the permissions given, if any, for development to the owners of land responsible for building it should be immediately cancelled. The area in question has to be kept free from any construction activity, so close to the riverbed so that the sanctity of Bio Conservation Zone (BCZ) is maintained.

2) A ROAD ON GOVT. PROPERTY FROM THE CAUSEWAY FOR AN APPROACH TO THE LAND OF THE ENCROACHERS.
The above encroachers (Srinivas Reddy) have also built a road on govt. property from the causeway for an approach way to their lands apparently without any PERMISSION. Photograph No.1 on Page 2 in support of our statement is enclosed.

3) DEVELOPMENT OF LAND ADJACENT TO THE RIVER BED ABUTTING THE CAUSEWAY.
Reportedly one Mr. Agarwal, another site owner is developing land adjacent to the riverbed. This plot development has encroached into the riverbed and the developer is dumping huge amounts of Earth and Rocks into the riverbed and has plans to encroach the river. He has already built boundary wall in the riverbed against all rules. Photograph No.2 on Page 1 and Photo No.2 on Page 2 corroborating our statement is enclosed.

RECOMMENDATION:The development activity being taken up by Mr. Agarwal also has to be stopped immediately and he has to be prosecuted and penalized heavily apart from bearing the expenses for clearing the debris he has dumped into the river.

4) LEVELLING OF SITE AND PLAN FOR CONSTRUCTION IN APPROXIMATELY 22 ACRES RIGHT NEXT TO SURPLUS WEIR OF OSMANSAGAR IN THE DOWNSTREAM.
This site is right next to the surplus weir of Osman Sagar in the downstream and is spread approximately over 22 acres. The plot allegedly belongs to one Mr.K.Lakshma Reddy. The plot is very close to the discharge of the reservoir and the team is not sure about the Legal status of the claim. It is the same with above-mentioned two properties also. The Forum has to verify the claims by using RTI Act. The site is being leveled and the workers at the site said they will be taking up construction shortly but they are not aware of the nature/type of construction to be taken up
The site by the proximity to the reservoir might be classified as a high-risk one and any construction work that might progress here has the potential to damage the structure of the dam, which will have disastrous consequences. There are also many rock formations in the site that are to be leveled and we fear that High-grade explosives will be used to clear them which will be damaging the dam. The photograph No. 3 of Page No.1 in support of our statement is enclosed for reference.

RECOMMENDATION: The permissions, if any, given to Mr.Lakshma Reddy have to be reviewed and if they involve violating the provisions of BCZ, have to be cancelled immediately and the land has to be kept free from construction activity according to the provisions of BCZ as per the Honorable Supreme Court’s Order

5) ENCROACHMENT OF BALKAPUR NALA.
The Nala is one of the most important feeder nalas of Hussain Sagar. The team observed that all along the length the Nala it has been subject to encroachments and obstructions illegally. Within a length of 1-1.2 km the Nala has been filled up partially or completely by a DWACRA Bhavan and 3 approach roads completely and in many more places by dumping of earth and rocks from the adjacent plots which are being leveled recently for further development. Further APIIC is developing an IT Park and has dumped its waste into the Nala disfiguring it beyond recognition. We fear that unless the administration reins in its own department and the other private real estate developers the Nala is going to disappear and the place will be prone to frequent flooding during monsoons for lack of drainage facilities presently being offered by the Nala. The blocking of this Nala will also result in decreased inflows into Hussain Sagar Lake and consequently will result in the slow death of the magnificent water body in the heart of the city. Photographs No.1,2 and 3 in Page 4 and Photo No.1 in Page 5 are enclosed in support of our statement.

RECOMMENDATIONS: The Balkapur Nala has to be immediately cleared of all Encroachments and obstructions and persons responsible, including APIIC have to be prosecuted and action be taken, The boundaries of the Nala have to be marked clearly by the joint survey of Revenue and Irrigation departments and the Nala has to be repaired and the silt and debris should be removed completely to revive it along with plantations all along the boundary to conserve it.

6) MASSIVE LAND FILLING TAKEN UP ON THE MUSI RIVERBED AT ATTAPUR BRIDGE
A month before the rainy season commences, the Musi river bed at Attapur Bridge is in for a massive land filling. Debris and loose earth including huge boulders are being dumped in the river bed here. It is being done on both sides of the bridge and the width of the river has come down alarmingly. This we believe is being done to exploit the real estate boom in the present days. This will cause immeasurable damage to the environs and has the potential to create tremendous loss to human lives and property in the event of the river flooding. A corroborative report from The Hindu Dt: - 30.4.2007 is enclosed at Page No.6. A representative from FBH had visited the site.

RECOMMENDATIONS:The encroachments have to be stopped immediately and steps taken to prevent recurrence. The debris in the river has to be cleared immediately before the monsoon season and after a thorough enquiry the Culprits should be brought to book as per law.

We further bring to your notice the following developments:
Outer Ring Road (ORR) Construction across Musi near Narsingi Cross Roads:
The work seems to be progressing leisurely on a bridge construction of 45 m width for ORR across Musi River. The water in the riverbed is being obstructed in a large area due to which the water is stagnating and has formed a huge cesspool. The stagnating water has become a huge mosquito-breeding center and has the potential to cause a huge problem to the health of local residents of Gandipet and Narsingi villages. They either are waiting for the monsoon season to arrive and go or are they are not planning the project well. If there are heavy rains and the gates of Osman Sagar are lifted, the foundation work might be washed off and cause a huge loss. On the other hand, it might also obstruct the free flow of excess waters and cause damage to the surrounding villages. Photographs No.1,2,3 in Page No.3 are enclosed for your reference.

Recommendation: The ORR authorities should be prevailed upon to take immediate steps to ensure that free flow of water is not obstructed

Thanking you,
Yours sincerely,
(M.VEDAKUMAR)
President
Forum For A Better Hyderabad
Mobile: 9848044713
E-mail: chelimi@yahoo.com
C.C to: 1. Sri.K.Jawahar Reddy, IAS., Managing Director, HMWSSB, Hyd.
2. Sri. S.P.Tucker, IAS., Principal Secretary, Irrigation, Hyd.
3. Sri.C.V.S.K.Sharma, Chief Commissioner, GHMC, Hyd
4. Sri.Jayesh Ranjan, IAS.,Vice Chairman, HUDA, Hyd.
5. Sri.S.P.Singh, IAS., Principal Secretary, MAUD, Hyd.
6. The Director, DTCP, Hyd.
7. The Managing Director, APIIC
8. Sri.Rajeshwar Tiwari, IAS., Member Secretary, APPCB, Hyd.
9. The MRO, Rajendranagar Mandal
10. The MRO, Sheikpet Mandal.
A Causeway across River Musi
Musi river is being filled by mud and sotnes near Osmansagar
 
View of Old and New cause way bridges of River Musi
Musi river is being filled by sotnes
Musi river is being filled by sotnes
Cunstruction of Outer Ring Road
Cunstruction behind Musi River near Outer Ring Road
 
Stones laid across the Nala
Balkpur Nala filled with stones
 
The historical Balakpur Channel in the vicinity of Manikonda Village has been filled up to
Cheruvu
Balakpur Cheruvu
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Forum / 2006 July 31, 2006

The Vice Chairman & Managing Director,
Hyderabad Urban Development Authority,
Paigah Palace , Rasoolpura, Hyderabad - 500 003

Sir,
Sub: Protection of Catchment Area of Himayatsagar & Osmansagar Reservoirs

The important aspects of catchment area land use, stipulated in G.O.Ms.No. No. 111 M.A dated 8-3-19996 , for protection of Himayatsagar and Osmansagar Reservoirs , are listed below for your ready reference

The land use of about 90 % of the area is classified as recreational andconservation use in the Master Plan. The HUDA should take action for classification of this 90% of the area as Agriculture , which is inclusive of horticulture and floriculture - Para 3 (b)

To restrict the FSI to 1: 0.5 in the catchment area . This measure will ensure
that that 90 % of the area remains under agriculture, as is the practice now
and ensure protection of the lakes- Para 3 (c)

But from the information provided by MPDO, Moinabad Mandal, R.R District, vide letter dated 6-3-2006 copy of which is enclosed for ready reference, it is observed that a number of Layouts and Resorts, without obtaining permission or with the permission of Ex / Present Sarpanch, are being developed in the catchment area within 10 KMs of FTL. It is a also a well known fact that a number of educational institutions, and unauthorized developments are coming up within the prohibited catchment area

It will be appreciated if HUDA can confirm that 90% of the area as stipulated, has been classified as Agriculture and notified accordingly. Would also appreciate the information about action being taken to remove / prevent the developments in the catchment area, in violation of the provisions of G.O. No 111

Looking forward for an early response

Your Cordially

Capt.J.Rama Rao I.N. (Retd)
Chairman

Copy to 1) Principal Secretary
Dept of MA&UD
2) The Collector , R.R District

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FORUM FOR A BETTER HYDERABAD Celebrated World Water Day on 22nd March 2004 on the banks of Hussainsagar [Necklace Road] to fit into the theme "Quality of Potable Water in Twin Cities" by taking the message "the need to conserve, preserve and protect drinking water" across to school children from different schools in twin cities. The function was attended by several NGOs like SAMATA, Programme for Environmental Awareness in Schools (PEAS).

The Union and the State governments had not taken adequate steps to monitor the quality of drinking water, which had an important bearing on the health of people.  Due to water scarcity people were consuming water from whatever source was available to them, in this process exposing themselves to health hazards. Nearly 90% of water supply in the country was found to be polluted and consequently 15 lakh children under five die annually due to water-borne diseases, as per the Central Pollution Control Board.  A CPCB survey conducted on 241 towns in 14 States in 1999 found that a meager 1.6% of the polluted waste water gets treated.  The problem of health hazards increase multi-fold with bulging urban areas [in 1901 less than 10% of the state population were living in urban areas and now around 30% of state's population living in urban areas].  During January-November 2003, 45 people died and several thousands were admitted due to diseases caused by polluted water and poor sanitary conditions in Fever Hospital alone.  The numbers admitted and died in 2003 are more than double than those in 2002.  Several died in Niloufer Hospital.

The groundwater is one of the major sources for drinking in twin cities.  The groundwater table, which said to have fallen by nearly 100 to 200 feet, was also found to have 'harmful' concentration of nitrate and fluoride.   Presence of nitrates above 40 ppm is considered harmful.  The observations indicated nitrate levels of the order of 250 ppm.

About Function

Mr. M. Veda Kumar Forum President welcomed the gathering and introduced the functioning of Forum, saying that it has ten working groups, namely (1) Urban development, slums and other related matters, (2) Heritage, culture, etc. (3) Rock Formation & Ecology, (4, 9 & 10) Urban Parks, Forests, Birds & Wildlife, [5) Urban Lakes & Water bodies, [6 & 7] Urban Transport, noise pollution, Auto Pollution, Industrial pollution, etc. and (8) Solid Waste Management. Capt. J. Rama Rao, Forum Chairman in his message specifically addressing the children informed while India accounted for 17 per cent of the world population, it had only four percent of world's water.  The Forum, which tested three water bodies in the twin cities - Hussainsagar, Osmansagar and Himayatsagar - for 10 parameters, released its findings.  R. Ravi of SAMATA while presenting the results said that pollution levels were mounting in Hussainsagar, with the inflow of sewage and other effluents [see the attachment -1].  The dissolved oxygen (DO) content was much below the required level, resulting in organic pollution, while the high phosphate content was leading to growth of algae, odour and colour formation.  Osmansagar and Himayatsagar, main drinking water resources, showed fluoride content above the permissible limits and algai bloom that was hazardous to health.  Groundwater samples taken from bore-wells near these resources also showed fluoride content beyond permissible limits.  Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy prepared a handout - press note [see the attachment - 2] and circulated to media and others on the general water quality information over different parts of Hyderabad and VIZAG. 

 

Mr. Jeevan Reddy, Mr. Vedakumar, Capt. J. Rama Rao, Mr. Sarvotham Rao are seen with children

 

Mr. Vedakumar is addressing the participants From Left to Right... Dr. Pushpa, Mr. Teru, Capt. J. Rama Rao, Mr. Jeevanand Reddy, Ms. Sangamitra Mallik, Mr. Ravi of Samatha

From PEAS, Mrs. Pushpa and children spoke on the occasion highlighting the need to have safe drinking water on one side and preserve the scarce commodity like water.  School children also presented a song programme on this and Ms. Sanghamitra Malik presented a poem on the occasion in English and Hindi.  Sri. C. Sarvotham Rao Forum Treasurer presented vote of thanks by thanking Buddha Poornima Authority for permitting to use the place, schoolchildren [though they are busy with their exams they could spare the time for the occasion], media and others including Forum members who participated in the function. 

 
Mr. Sarvotham Rao - Treasurer is speaking From left to Right : Capt. J. Rama Rao - Chairman, Mr. Jeevanand Reddy - Secretary, Mr. Veda Kumar, Chief Convenor of Forum For a Better Hyderabad   Children Participants

At this occasion Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy presented a letter written to the Vice Chairman, Buddha Poornima Authority [BPA] by him on behalf of the forum where the Forum appealed to the BPA to stop illegal construction activity in the prohibited 30-meter buffer zone along the Hussainsagar Lake and letting out the lake water by lifting sluice gates near the Viceroy hotel.  Though the Sate High Court had issued a stay on the construction of Rock Garden in the periphery of Hussainsagar following a writ petition filed by the Forum.  Even as the stay order was in operation, a massive concrete structure with stell reinforcement in between Rock Garden and People's Plaza was coming up in the 30-meter buffer zone in violation of all norma presents disregard to water bodies & law.  The Forum also expressed its concern over the unhygienic conditions that had prevailed following large congregation of people during the recent 'chicken festival' and the Telugu Desam Party's 'Vijayabheri'. 

        It is frightening; children and adults today carry an estimated 300 or more chemical residues that were not present in their grandparent's body.  These chemicals accumulate in the body with time and are passed on to the next generation often in high concentrations.  Waterborne diseases, caused by the intake of chemicals and contaminated water, affects around 3.4 million people globally.  In India, around 563,000 people are affected annually, one fourth of which are children, according to the Union ministry of health and family welfare. [Down to Earth, June 15, 2002].

Groundwater Pollution: Few Examples:

Location Element Observed Values Desirable Limit Source of Pollution

Patancheru

Arsenic

upto 700 ppb

10 ppb

Industrial

Hyderabad

Nitrate

1.2 - 760 mg/l

45 mg/l

Urban

"

Copper

0.03-0.49 mg/l

0.05 mg/l

Industrial

Osmansagar

Sulphate

673-1996 mg/l   

200 mg/l

Agriculture

Vizag

Nitrate

0.0-556 mg/l

45 mg/l

Urban

"

Lead

0.18-0.19 mg/l

0.05 mg/l

Industrial

"

Cadmium

0.3-0.72 mg/l

0.01 mg/l

Industrial

         

In Patancheru industrial area, groundwater is polluted to a great extent.  The total dissolved solids have increased.  Arsenic level in certain villages is as high as 700 parts per billion (ppb) as against the permissible 10 ppb as recommended by WHO.  Similarly, water pollution is reported in Jeedimetla and SIRIS industrial areas;

In Visakhapatnam, groundwater is highly polluted so much so that water has become unfit for drinking in Mindi-Chukkavanipalem industrial zone.  Similarly the pollution is also observed in other industrial zones also;

In Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam urban areas, nitrate pollution is observed due to sewerage waste and lack of sound sanitary management system;

Due to excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides, excess concentration of phosphate, nitrate, potassium often occur in above permissible limits in intensively irrigated patches;

A study conducted by NGRI has revealed high levels of arsenic, lead, strontium and other heavy metals in the soil and water in Kattedan.  Soil samples taken from Kattedan revealed high quantities of arsenic - 8 ppm to 15 ppm [permissible level - 2 ppm] --, which is an extremely poisonous chemical that can cause cancer of the bladder, kidney, liver, skin; lead too is alarmingly high - more than 1000 ppm [permissible level - 50 ppm] --, which can effect nervous system, kidneys, inhibits production of hemoglobin, interferes with fetal growth, skeletal formation and renal cancer. Water samples revealed high levels of lead, strontium - 2000 ppb [permissible level - 100 ppb], selenium - more than 20 ppb [permissible level - 10 ppb], which will impede growth and cause anemia.

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Protection of Lakes

Hyderabad's Deccan topography facilitated construction of a number of water storing devices (lakes, ponds, reservoirs etc.), both natural and man-made. They provided drinking water to millions and helped recharge groundwater. So many of them have disappeared and got seriously contaminated, thanks to encroachments, land grabbing and discharge of untreated industrial effluents and domestic sewage. The attitude of the powers that be has been that of apathy, connivance and collusion. There is a larger preference for costly water supply schemes rather than protecting the existing water bodies. What should be done?

For more read below:

             IInd order to have sufficient fresh water to sustain life throughout the year and even in bad monsoon periods, it has become necessary to store rainwater during monsoon months in lakes and ponds. In our country, since the days of Harappan civilization over 4000 years ago, the practice of building reservoirs existed to store rainwater for drinking, irrigation and other uses. Kautalya's Arthasastra tells us that the King was to provide assistance to people who built tanks, and Manu imposed capital punishment on a person who destroyed a tank bund.

But what is happening now to the lakes, tanks, ponds etc., is altogether different. Instead of building more tanks to meet fresh water requirements of ever-increasing population, we are not even able to protect and preserve good old water bodies and are accelerating the process of their destruction. This is an alarming trend, which will lead to rapid depletion of groundwater resulting in acute fresh water scarcity apart from disturbing the ecological balance.

Hyderabad and its surroundings get most of the rainfall during the South-West monsoon period from June to September amounting to total annual average rainfall of about 85 cm. In Hyderabad Metropolitan Area (HMA), there are 169 lakes of 10 hectares and above to impound and store rainwater during monsoon months. These are also notified by Hyderabad Urban Development Authority (HUDA). Out of these, about 145 lakes are reported to be dry up during non-monsoon months and they are being allowed to be systematically and gradually encroached, filled-up and used for residential and other purposes either with the connivance of the authorities concerned or by manipulating the records. One fails to understand the logic of allowing the existing tanks, ponds etc., to be destroyed and at the same time spending huge amounts for creating rain water harvesting pits and costly water supply schemes?


Illegal constructions and encroachments in lakebeds
Courtesy : Eenadu

The questions to be asked are:

  • Is the Government really serious about protecting the water bodies from land grabbers and, preserving and restoring them?

    If so, why doesn't Government act swiftly and decisively?

    Is A.P. Water, Land and Trees Act 2001 going to be another tool to encourage corruption?

    Why doesn't the Government concentrate on integrated development of the water bodies and their catchment areas, in and around Hyderabad, instead of thinking of grandiose plans for bringing water from Kistna or Godavari at exorbitant cost?

    Considerable damage has already been done to many of the lakes in HMA and its environs, either by polluting waters due to dumping of solid wastes, discharge domestic sewage and industrial effluents into them or by reducing the size of the lake areas by encroachments and other developmental activities. The dumping of garbage and the discharge of untreated or under-treated effluents and sewage are in violation of Section 24 of Water Act 1974, but AP Pollution Control Board and the Government remain passive spectators to such happenings.

Measures to be undertaken:
Small capacity sewage treatment plants may be set up in different localities to treat sewage generated and to utilise the treated waters for non-domestic purposes in the respective localities. This will arrest excessive exploitation of ground waters and pollution of surface water sources. The desilting of lakebeds, strengthening of tank bunds and construction of spillways for the discharge of surplus waters, should be undertaken on a priority basis. This will ensure harvesting of rain water and recharging of ground water in the area, apart from preventing flooding of low lying areas.

A survey of all lakes in HUDA area be undertaken as per revenue records on a top priority basis to identify "Full Reservoir Levels" (FRL) and "Maximum Reservoir Levels" (MRL) and demarcate their boundaries. Extensive green belts be developed in the areas between FRL and MRL and on lake bunds around the lakes. The demarcated lake areas should be protected from further encroachments suitable fencing may erected around for this purpose. The patta lands, if any, within the demarcated areas are to be acquired by paying reasonable compensation or offering suitable incentives to genuine landowners. The change of land use in water bodies should not to be permitted under any circumstances, by amending Section 12 of Urban Areas Development Act 1975. The encroachments within in the demarcated boundaries may be removed in a phased manner based on their adverse impact on water bodies. Otherwise, there is every danger of repeated flooding and inundation of residential areas as experienced in August 2000.

The HUDA issued a Notification in May 2000, listing 169 lakes with an extension of more than 10 hectares, for protection and keeping them free of any types of constructions irrespective of ownership of land or land use or Master/Zonal Development Plans that may have been previously notified or sanctioned. The Notification also stipulates that a buffer belt of 30 meters width, on all sides of each lake, must be kept free from any type of construction in the interest of prevention of pollution of lake waters and to allow free inflows and outflows. Once these lakes are recognized as potential sources of water supply, and if protected, they may prove to be more cost effective and eco-friendly than bringing Kishna or Godavari waters to Hyderabad.

However, because of involvement of multiple agencies like local bodies (MCH, Municipalities and Panchayats), Revenue department, Irrigation department, Pollution Control Board, HUDA etc., and due to lack of inter-departmental coordination and proper appreciation, the protection of lakes has become a serious causality all these years. A single agency, therefore, will have to be made responsible and accountable for all activities related to protection of lakes. Moreover, the protection of lakes cannot be dealt with in isolation, as it is closely interlinked with proper treatment of catchment areas, urban forestry and green belt development, land use planning and management etc. It will have to be integrated with biomass management involving land, water and greenbelts. It is hoped that protection and development of 169 notified lakes, will be integrated with the Indo-Dutch Green Hyderabad Project 2000-04.

The HUDA, which is the implementing agency of Indo-Dutch project, be appointed as the nodal agency responsible and accountable for coordination of all activities connected with the maintenance, protection, development and preservation of 169 lakes in HMA. The local Lake Protection Cells, involving stakeholders and local communities be constituted for each lake that will act as watchdogs and give feed back to HUDA. The sale and registration of lands in the areas covered under notified lakes should be banned. No development activities should be permitted in these areas, which are to be supervised and controlled by HUDA. It is hoped that Andhra Pradesh Water, Land and Trees Ordinance, 2000 and the subsequent Act on the subject will bring in more inter-departmental coordination and accountability in protecting the lakes from the land grabbers and sharks!

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SOILS, WATER, BIODIVERSITY AND CULTURES

R. Rajamani, lAS, (Retd)

Soils, water and biological diversity expressed in all flora and fauna, existed long before the human species, Home erectus, who was part of this scene came down from the trees and started behaving as though he was superior to other species. In early history of the world many natural disasters and phenomena occurred like floods, avalanches, earth quakes, and continental drift and meteorite strikes. These wrought many changes like disappearance of species, formation of new continents and landmasses.

Geological tumults which brought a glacial era, ecosystem changes (like the rise of the Himalayas), formation of fossil fuels and so on. The human species evolved long after many of these changes had occurred and we are witnesses even today to many natural disasters, though not on the same scale so far. Human beings have made their contribution to the destruction of resources by events such as the World Wars and indiscriminate industrialization which have left deep scars on our soils, water and biodiversity, not to speak of air which is a big subject in itself! It is important to note that these changes due to anthropogenic forces are compressed in time scale and accelerate environmental deterioration much faster than even natural disasters.
Soils, water and biodiversity are therefore reducing natural' resources now due to interference with evolutionary forces and over utilization.
We are rushing ahead with utilization as though today counts more than tomorrow. The human intelligence and power of reasoning which apparently distinguishes it from other species is being used more for destruction than conservation of natural endowments.
Soils, especially topsails are, along with clean air and water, life support systems which ensure the food chain is intact and food security is assured. Yet our agricultural, pastoral, forestry, irrigation and industrial practices are such that precious topsoil is being washed away year after year and there is no renewal of either the soil or the nutrients that go with it to sustain our food chain over a long period. Use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers for short-term gains, over irrigation and changes in land use like deforestation, over urbanization and overgrazing are altering the chemical composition and texture of soils and laying waste productive land like never before.

Our waters are victims too of similar phenomena. Both quality and quantity of water are in grave danger. We have reached a stage where waters in our rivers, lakes, ponds and even under the ground are no longer fit for drinking or even bathing in many places. Over use of water for irrigation, interference with natural water courses and industrialization has resulted in disputes between even States within our country itself! Things have come to such a pass that even the abundant sea waters are now being polluted by discharge of sewerage, industrial effluents and oil spills which endanger marine biological resources on which we could have depended when our terrestrial resources are depleted.
 Flora and fauna of all descriptions which are part of the rich biological diversity are disappearing at a faster rate than when natural phenomena overtook them.

In India we have lost the cheetah and the pink headed duck in the last century, to mention two species which were more visible. Many other organisms both above and below ground must have vanished even before being documented. Many domesticated species of animals and crops too are now victims of the greed for more production and breeds which served us well for centuries are now on the verge of extinction.
We are compelled to see many of our animals and plants only in zoological parks, botanical gardens or herbariums Many species are now in the threatened or vulnerable category and we are hard put to conserve even our apex species like the tiger and the elephant
Why have we reached this stage in our existence where our own future, leave aside that of future generations is put at such risk? It is easy to ascribe this as being due to overpopulation or the inevitability of economic growth where some sacrifices are inevitable. But the more deep causes are cultural in nature.

The values of conservation and proximity to Nature which prevailed for centuries and even permeated religious and other beliefs, particularly in countries like India are facing erosion. The dominance of the human species, ignoring the equity among, if not equality of, all living things and organisms has reached a point where it is endangering its own survival. Unlike our ancient cultures we see now natural resources as those to be subjugated, used and even overused in the name of better management! The surprising aspect of these developments is the utter disregard of the interests of our own future generations who will find that non renewable natural resources have been exhausted and renewable resources have been harvested to the point of no return.

These trends do not reflect the close link between soils, water, biodiversity and human cultures which did not look at them as distinct entities to be manipulated at will but as a continuum with strong inter linkages.

We in this country have had such a culture and understanding of Nature for centuries and even now, mercifully, in most of our rural areas and in select urban pockets we have wise people arid 'Communities which cherish and even worship these linkages.

They have a clear understanding of the distinction between need and greed and the intra and intergenerational equities which are fostered by a spirit of give and take, compassion and mutual love and support.
It is no surprise that most of the saints, savants, religious and even temporal heads recognized these linkages not only in the world but especially in India. We had the Vedas which sought benediction in natural phenomena as when they said vanaspatheye shanthih. In the Bhagwad Gita, the lord says that among the trees He was the aswattah. The two religions which originated here just before the birth of Jesus Christ, Buddhism and Jainism gave central place to compassion, karuna. jeeva karunya or compassion to all living creatures became a powerful tool of thought and action, so much so that two thousand years later, it became part of the Constitution of India which makes it the fundamental duty of India's citizens to "have compassion for all living creatures", We had kings like Sibi and Paari who were part of this culture.
Sibi carved out his own flesh to save a dove trom the hunter who insited on his pound of flesh. Paari left his golden chariot on the side of the road to support a jasmine creeper which was drooping under its own weight Then we had Emperor Ashoka who decreed tne creation of wildlife sanctuaries and even had a hospital for elephants! Our common people recognised the pools of water and biodiversity in many places and by attributing divinity to them, preserved them as devarakadu or "Sacred Groves".
Strangely, centuries later we saw the British naturalist and shikari Mr Jim Corbett recognising the distinction th_ animal kingdom observed between greed and need.
He was averse to the practice of attracting tigers with a goat as bait When he was prevailed upon by a hunter friend to witness from a machan such a bait for the tiger, the tiger astonished his friend by smelling the goat and walking away! Jim Corbett was not surprised and told his friend the tiger must have killed for food just before that and so had no interest in the goat! The tiger killed only when it had a need and not out of greed. Can we say the same thing about many of the lavish and ostentatious things we do these days?
The cultural values that helped conserve our natural resources did not treat them as separate entities but sawall of them as a whole not distinct from the parts-the concept of poornam and simple living inherent in some of our texts and philosophy.

The simple life, dharmic path and philanthropy practiced by the Jagadguru Shivaratri Swamigalu Order are in the same genre. But the prevalence and power of the existentialist thought as well as the two dimensional reductionist approach of Western Science, which we have copied without demur, have led us away trom these values.
It is not as though we can have only one path of development that is ruinous to our natural resources. We can practice many things which contribute to sustainable development like using more of biological control of pests and diseases, finding more biodegradable substances for uses which have become part of the modern cultures, growing more of nutrition rich and less water intensive crops that will help minimse conflicts, incorporating cleaner technologies that do not generate waste at all and do not pollute our air and waters, reusing and recyc1 ing- the list of things that the human intellect can do to conserve natural resources is long but practical and achievable. But what more is required is a cultural attitiude where the spirit governs us as much as matter. Contentment and being able to make do with less, altruistic practices that avoid driving the weak up the wall, respect and compassion for all living creatures (which should include plants, shrubs and trees) -these and more that our saints and scriptures have imbibed in us should drive us rather than greed and an attitude of the Devil'taking the hindmost.
The thought for the morrow and the lives we shall ourselves create for living in it should ever be at the back of our mind as we use our soils, water and biodiversity.
I had an interesting experience with communities living around Nagarhole National park. Many in the group of villagers were incensed about not being allowed to cut the grass, gather small fuel or take up small water harvesting structures. When they were asked whether they were against the steps taken to conserve wildlife they said no, but wanted that the Park should not inhibit their own growth in terms of food, income and jobs. When they were asked if someone else also ought to be heard in this connection, they were a bit confused as who it could be.

When I asked if we should not hear also the animals, trees and grasses what they thought of all this, the people became silent. It is quite possible they thought I was being eccentric but I give them the benefit of doubt and recognise their cultural milieu where other living beings were also having divine sanction. If they were not like that surely they would have risen in protest. But it is not possible to have the same reaction from those for whom making a quick rupee or believe "Development is all".
I have tried to reason with many of our engineers, contractors, industrialists, farmers and even policymakers and found that they paid only lip-homage to our cultural traditions and Conservation. Our future 'witl be secure only when they imbibe the values I quoted from ou Vedas and philosophies and from the following two quotations.
The first is from a Nobel Peace Lauraeate Ms Rigoberta Menchu who is from Guatemela and of Mayan descent. It reads.
"The Mayas, our grandparents, always said ,every human being occupies a small piece of time, time itself is much longer, and because of this they always said that we must care for this earth while we are on it because it will be part of our children, of our granDchildren.
They know that life is short, that it can end so soon, and if that one gets lost on the way, others will come to take their place"
 The second one is from a Cree Indian saying in USA: "It is only when the last tree has been cut When the last fish has been caught, When the last river has been poisoned, That you will realise that you cannot eat money". Amen.

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