Illegal act exposed and it has been found that more than 100 bore-wells and 1,000 trenches were dug in the catchment areas of both the water bodies of Himayatsagar and Osmansagar in Hyderabad.

In blatant defiance to the norms of GO 111, trenches and bore-wells have been dug within the full tank level of Himayatsagar and Osmansagar, posing a huge threat to the environment. It has been found that more than 100 bore-wells and 1,000 trenches were dug in the catchment areas of both the water bodies. Cutting across party lines, political leaders, educationalists, media tycoons and businessmen allegedly dug trenches in the catchment area. These trenches are serving water needs of playgrounds, convention halls, farmhouses, colleges, swimming pools and other business establishments.

Trenching below the bund level resists free flow of rainwater to the reservoirs. The lake protection authorities and water board officials turned a blind eye to the GO No 111 (dated March 8, 1996), pertaining to the protection of catchment areas of Himayatsagar lake as recommended by a committee constituted by the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWS&SB).

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Authorities Apathy

The officials allegedly disobeyed the direction of the then irrigation minister T. Harish Rao, at a high-level meeting held with the officials of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA), Rangareddy district collector and Telangana State Pollution Control Board (TSPCB) officials in August 2015. Harish Rao instructed officials to safeguard water bodies and accorded administrative sanction of Rs 64 crore for the purpose. He directed the officials to mark full tank levels of the lakes and to put an end to mining in view of adverse impact on lakes in the area. He also asked officials to set up an enforcement cell and demolish all encroachments immediately.

Ironically, his instruction fell on deaf ears. In less than 3 km radius of the Himayatsagar, quarrying for stones has been going on actively. This apart, the HMDA has recently identified over 10,000 illegal constructions in the vicinity of the twin reservoirs.

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Officials, admitting the presence of illegal bore-wells, trenches and quarrying, said they controlled them only to a certain extent and the higher authorities should make policy decisions and deploy men to curb illegal activities. Authorities said feeder channels from Tandur and Vikarabad, which were major water sources, were also blocked by illegal structures that hindered the flow of water into twin reservoirs.

When queried about the illegal trenching, revenue and HMWSSB officials said the issue was not brought to their notice and they would give a detailed report in a couple of days after their field visits.

Rules thrown to wind

– GO 111 prohibits polluting industries, major hotels, residential colonies or other establishments in catchment area

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– Prominent businessmen and political leaders constructed many unauthorised establishments

– They include farmhouses, cricket ground, stone quarries, estates and others

– GO 50 issued in January 1989 prohibits construction of water storage structures in the catchment areas of Himayatsagar

– Trenches and illegal stone quarries, in less than three kilometres from the Himayatsagar lake, has been posing high risk to lives of nearby residents

– The residents in the vicinity have been using contaminated water for daily needs including drinking

– Thousands of litres of water has been wasted due to the illegal works taken up in quarries

– A committee headed by S.P. Shorey in 1994 said there was absolute need to safeguard Himayatsagar, Osmansagar, Manjeera and Singur reservoirs

This is the scenario before the revoking the government order. One can imagine, the consequences after the GO will go off. #KhabarLive #hydnews