With the successful completion of Ganesh immersion, now it is time for cleaning up debris. While the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) is busy clearing the Hussain Sagar, environmental activists and students too got into the act to do their bit for the city lakes.
The Environmentalist Foundation of India (EFI) founder Arun Krishnamurthy and over 20 students, aged between 11 and 17, went to the Alwal lake and were, in their own words, “appalled” by what they saw.
“This is the height of disrespect to God. Puja materials, offerings and what not, lie near the lake. There are innumerable idols, made of plaster of paris, at the bottom of the lake. We can’t take them out because we don’t have the machinery for that,” said Arun. He explained that the idols lay deep down forming layers in the lake. “The depth of the lake has decreased already, and in the end, the water body will just disappear,” he opined.
Arun and his group began the clean up operation on Sunday despite the Telangana March. “The two schools, which agreed to help us, backed out because parents feared trouble was brewing in the city due to the march. I would have done it even with five members,” said the activist from Chennai. The group, however, did receive support from the GHMC, which provided 22 workers, a garbage truck and bins, and equipment to assist the clean up. It wasn’t just idols made of plaster of paris that were removed from the lake, other materials like alcohol bottles, clothes, thermocol, photo frames were also fished out.
The task was such that Arun had to hire 10 more workers by paying each Rs 300 out of his own pocket. “It was still disheartening to watch the workers neck deep in water remove the idols and other materials for a really long time,” explained Arun. He and his group had cleaned up the Kapra lake a few months back. Comparing the Alwal experience to that, the group members felt Kapra was a relatively easy job.
“Here, we had to literally step into the lake and pull out materials. Things weren’t just floating on water, they were pretty much submerged,” said Vaidehi C, an EFI member. Her friend S Prathyusha was also angry finding the lake in a bad condition.
But the group is not deterred. They will be cleaning up five other lakes in November.