Thursday, Nov 28, 2002
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By K. Venkateshwarlu
In flagrant violation of the Andhra Pradesh High Court directions, heritage regulations and the Hyderabad Urban Development Authority notification on lakes, the Tourism Department has built a bund in the valley across the lake on the eastern side between Nandi Hills Housing colony and the Jubilee Hills Housing Society, cutting off an important feeder channel.
Further down on the eastern side, a little beyond the newly built bund, a number of houses have been allowed to come up as part of "Silent Valley Colony''. As if this is not enough, a huge apartment complex, "Nectar Gardens'' is fast coming up on the Guttala Begumpet side. Both the colony and the apartment complex are right on the lake bed within the Full Tank Level area. Most of these areas were in waist- deep water when heavy rains lashed the city in August 2000 and the lake attained FTL.
The bund and the unabashed construction activity within the FTL area have vastly brought down the size of the lake besides obstructing the inflows. If this trend of squeezing the lake dry continued, the once fresh water lake, may soon become a stinking sewage dump or worse still, a dried-up gorge, warn, J. Rama Rao, Chairman of the Forum for Better Hyderabad, Frauke Quader and Aparajita Sinha of the Society to Save Rocks.
On a visit to the Durgam cheruvu on Wednesday, they were appalled to see the unabated building activity all around the lake. Ms. Quader said none of the developments around the lake taken up by the Tourism Department like laying a pathway, building a restaurant and now the bund, have the approval of the Heritage Conservation Committee. The approval was mandatory after the unique rock formations around the Durgam cheruvu, had been included in the nine precincts listed for protection under Regulation 13 of the HUDA Zoning Regulations.
The AP High Court, in its order dated July 20, 2001, issued directions to the AP Pollution Control Board, Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board and the Commissioner, Serilingampalli municipality, not to allow any residential colonies. The court had asked these government agencies to take immediate steps for prevention or collection and treatment of domestic sewage flowing from the residential colonies in the vicinity and catchment area of the lake.
None other than the Chief Secretary have been asked to monitor the functions and duties of the respondent authorities in protecting Durgam Cheruvu. A year-and-a-half later, these agencies have miserably failed in both checking pollution and constructions. Far from the vicinity and catchment areas, constructions have come up right on the lakebed. What is despicable is that many more areas on the lakebed and the rocks have been turned into plots and house numbers allotted.
Another HUDA notification of May 4, 2000, for conserving 169 lakes, makes it clear that the entire area falling within the FTL, as per the Survey of India Maps, must be kept free from any type of constructions, irrespective of the ownership or any land use or Master/ Zonal Development Plans that may have been previously notified. In addition, a buffer belt of 30-metre width on all sides of each lake must be kept free of any type of construction in the interest of prevention of pollution to the lake and allow free flow of water into the water bodies.
The notification even asked members of the public to bring to the notice of municipalities, gram panchayuats, the Police, the Irrigation and the Revenue departments in case of any violation. People had also been advised not to purchase any plots for residential or other developmental uses in and around these 169 lakes, since all such constructions were likely to be removed in due course and the violators prosecuted. But who cares ?
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