When the rich capitalists were too invested in analysing the stock markets and ignored the ramifications of industrialisation, it was then that leaders like Greta Thunberg stood up at a world platform to voice environmental concerns. She became an epitome of the saying ‘small change can do wonders’. Resonating along with her sentiments, a voluntary group in Hyderabad has been working to contribute their bit towards environment conservation.

Peerancheruvu Citizens for Change (PCC), a group of residents from PBEL City took the initiative to work for the revival of the dying Peerancheruvu lake. Since its formation in 2016, PCC has been trying to educate and create awareness about the Peerancheruvu environment. It aims to connect concerned citizens, and helps build a common platform to work on preserving and conserving the eco-system unique to Peerancheruvu.

Anuradha Raju, member of PCC explains, “Illegal encroachments and dumping of the waste directly into the lake have worsened its health. We are worried about the drainage pipe that is laid at the lake. It could leak and contaminate the water. We have been filing petitions and knocking the doors of every authority we could reach, but it has gone to deaf ears. This cavalier attitude is discouraging for us. It’s heartbreaking to see our lake turn into a sewer.”

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While pointing at the dried-up lakeshore, another member Sudhakar laments, “I used to enjoy walking along the lake when it was filled with water up till here. Bewitched by the serenity of the lake, I used to spend hours here and now look at this shallow place. This breaks my heart.”

Diversity of birds like painted storks, herons, migrant waders, ducks and kingfishers used to be a usual sight at the lake. In an effort to bring back the lost habitat and revive the lake, PCC members have been organising lake cleanup drives and awareness campaigns to prevent garbage dumping inside the lake by passersby.

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They also did bird watching with adults and children in and around the lake spotting. In the dry season, they took walks inside the lake bed, sat on rocks and observed the plant and bird life. Street plays by kids in the community were also organised which were centered around environmental themes like importance of lake protection, water conservation and waste segregation.

“When we found that there was deterioration in the environment of the lake such as unchecked sewage inflows from Shadaan College and TSPA reduced rainwater inflows, shrinking of the lake area and plotting and encroachments inside the Full Tank Level (FTL) of the lake, we felt compelled to write to the concerned authorities. Over the last three years, we have given petitions to the collector, irrigation officials, HMDA commissioner, GramPanchayat and the Lake Protection Committee.

While there has been some intervention through Mission Kakatiya for removing silt from the lake (which increased the holding capacity) and strengthening the main bund, these were not pressing issues plaguing the lake. With unchecked development in the catchment area of the lake, the inflow channels were getting increasingly throttled resulting in rainwater run off,” said Anuradha.

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The recent development works taken up by HMDA since early 2019 have further multiplied the woes. A sewage pipe has been laid inside the lake bed which is very alarming. Repeated efforts have been made to request the officials to stall the sewage pipework but all in vain.

Poet Alfred Lord Tennyson once wrote, “I steal by lawns and grassy plots, I slide by hazel covers; I move the sweet forget-me-nots. That grow for happy lovers.” Perhaps it’s time to preserve our environment before it’s too late that our children fail to feel the personification of the brook in these lines. #KhabarLive