The title of a ‘global city’ lost its sheen with the reality after the rains lashed. The brand image that the Telangana government tries to build for Hyderabad as the ‘global city‘ comes to nought whenever the city is lashed by the heavy and incessant downpour.

Many houses were so flooded that people on waking up were shocked to find themselves surrounded by water. Due to incessant rains, the rain water mixed with drainage water is gushing out in low-lying areas as the GHMC has not laid storm water drains in this entire areas to enable rain water to go.

Overnight rain in and around Hyderabad saw several nalas overflowing and the surging rainwater mixing with sewage that burst onto the streets as the underground drain system was overwhelmed with water accumulating across Hyderabad.

The government and Hyderabad administrators admit that the city does not have a proper drainage system fit for a global city but the proposed plans to execute the project worth thousands of crores to ensure smooth drainage flow fail to pick up speed even seven years after the formation of Telangana.

Overflowing nalas, inundated colonies, irate residents and plight of the poor come into focus during the monsoon season bringing back the haunting memories of many such incidents since the year 2000 floods.

Due to incessant rains, several areas in LB Nagar, Dilsukhnagar, Chaitanyapuri, Hayatnagar, Nagole, Meerpet, Uppal and other areas were inundated as Saroornagar tank got flooded, water entered the houses in the low lying areas and people had to move to safer places.

Many houses were so flooded that people on waking up were shocked to find themselves surrounded by water, sometimes up to their knees and in some cases, even rising to their chest levels. Incidentally, if furniture, electronic items and food stocks were damaged in several houses, many business establishments operating in low-lying areas also suffered huge losses.

Among some of the worst affected areas were Bairamulguda, Saroornagar, Lingojiguda, Nagole, Malkajgiri, and Toli Chowki.  Many residents in these areas are now worried whether the drinking water would be safe. Many of them blamed rampant encroachments and the failure of the authorities in upgrading the sewage system.

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Though overwhelmed with work, municipal staff could be seen at several locations working tirelessly to clear garbage disrupting water flow, and removing manhole covers for faster clearing of water.

Venkatesh Jampalla, a resident of Ayyappa Colony in LB Nagar, said “hundreds of houses have been affected. We were sleeping and even as we realized water was inside the house, it rose to our hip-level.”

Kairamkonda Srinivas from Ananda Nilayam Apartment in Shiva Sai Colony near Karmanghat said “all the cellars have been filled with rainwater. Bikes and cars have been submerged. We stayed dry as we live on the top floor and we did not have power all night.”

According to Marthi Rammohan of Mithalanagar, the problem of water entering houses has been one they have been facing for the past 13 years. “Whenever it rains heavily, we face this problem. Manthrala Cheru at Meerpet, into which all the sewage lines from the surrounding colonies empty into, overflow and enter our areas.”

Shanker, a resident of Shiridi nagar, Ananad Bagh, said “vehicles were drowned. If we want to move out, we have to wade through three feet of water. The situation repeats after every downpour.”

Viney Doddolu from Nagole, said “roads and colonies are flooded with rain water. Families were scared and there was no place to go in the middle of the night. There has to be a solution for mistakes of the authorities, who allow illegal constructions and encroachments of nalas.”

Rajender Prasad, a resident of Bairamulaguda, said the drain system is badly designed by the GHMC. It will take a day or two for the water to clear out but the dirt will be here for weeks, and makes our children fall ill.

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Durga Deeplal Chawhan said that the badly affected areas like Mitilanagar, Dindayal Nagar, Lani Nagar, are being helped. The government is doing its best to bring a permanent solution to the problem.”

On the other hand, the LB Nagar MLA D Sudheer Reddy himself had to face the inconvenience as his car got stuck in the flood water for a while in Sagar Enclave colony in the Hasthinapuram area as he was on his way to the affected areas.

The GHMC Engineering wing employees reached the affected areas to pump out and divert the water from the colonies. Though the TRS government and Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation have been saying that they have a comprehensive plan to address the issue by removing encroachment of nalas, regular de-siltation, besides expanding the drainage network and strengthening it in tune with growing urbanization, So far no visible improvement could be seen as in the case of roads and flyovers under the Strategic Road Development Programme.

Meanwhile, in a meeting recently, Minister Thalasanai Srinivas Yadav along with Mohammad Mahmood Ali with GHMC Mayor, officials to review the desilting of nalas as part of monsoon preparedness. The Minister admitted then that encroachment of nalas has become a major bottleneck in the maintenance and development of nalas and it was decided to remove illegal dwellings constructed by the poor by providing them with alternative housing elsewhere and double-bedroom houses.

A drive was taken up by people’s representatives and officials to understand the issues related to nalas by making field visits. Some did visit but the residents complained that it had become routine for officers and people’s representatives to visit during a calamity but no permanent solutions were being provided.

The Minister said that three committees were constituted comprising GHMC officers and engineers and they were directed to submit a comprehensive report by June-end and a workshop would be held in July first week under the chairmanship of MA&UD Minister KT Rama Rao on silt removal works, diversion of flow in nalas, development and protection of tanks whose encroachment was on the rise. The workshop is yet to happen.

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Last year the GHMC formulated Strategic Nala Development Plan and proposed works worth Rs 858 crore in GHMC and five other municipalities and Rs 50 crore was released for the first phase. But there was little progress.

Meanwhile, more tanks and ponds were being encroached in the city and towns and real estate ventures were planned with the business turnover of hundreds of crores. As the tanks shrunk with real estate development, the natural flow of water is blocked flooding the areas during heavy rains resulting in inundation and damage of property and household goods, say urban planners.

The rampant encroachment of water bodies and lack of a comprehensive drainage system is the bane of the city, admit officials of Irrigation, Revenue, MA&UD, NHAI officials who noticed that thousands of habitations came up in the place of encroached tank beds. New rules to protect water bodies

Recently the MA&UD department came out with new regulations for layouts in municipalities, corporations across the State on July 5 for the development of layouts with approach roads, mandatory open spaces, with all basic facilities including sewage treatment plants and made it clear that no approval will be given for land development in the full tank level of water bodies including tanks and nalas.

However, the citizens and social activists blame the apathy of government bodies in enforcing the rules and regulations for encroachment of water bodies. Their boundaries are not earmarked and protected making them easy prey for encroachments even as some people’s representatives and those close to them have been indulging in violation of rules. These things are talked about during inundation of habitations and pushed to the back burner once the rains recede, they quip. #KhabarLive #hydnews