Ambar Cheruvu, popularly known as Pragati Nagar Lake, near Kukatpally in the city is shrinking due to unabated encroachment and is turning into a sewage tank with dumping of garbage and discharge of sewage, Save Our Urban Lakes (SOUL), a lake protection organisation, has said.
The lake, located in Pragati Nagar, currently the much-coveted real estate destination, is one of the big lakes in the area. Its full tank level (FTL) at one time was spread over 224 acres and is now slowly shrinking with encroachments. Not just the buffer zone but the area within the FTL is also being encroached upon for several years now.
In May 2011, the Lake Protection Committee of HMDA was shocked to find that even the pillars demarcating the FTL had vanished due to encroachments. “While encroachment of the lake area continues, what is more worrying is that the lake is being used to dump construction debris and garbage. The discharge of effluents is polluting it further. Recently, we have found that 5-ft- dia pipes were being laid into the lake for discharging sewage. There were complaints that toxic wastes from industries in Balanagar were being released into the lake,” says Balaswamy, a lake protection activist.
Recently, such activists, who are better known as Lake Champions, have come together at SOUL Lake Champions Meet held at Ambar Cheruvu. The focus of the meeting was on the present status of Ambar Cheruvu and other tanks in the vicinity. Locals, who were also concerned about the shrinking lake, participated in it. Several issues pertaining to the encroachment of the lake, apathy of the government in dealing with the issue, construction of high rise buildings within the lake boundaries were discussed.
“If we allow the situation to continue, in the next few years, the lake, like several other water bodies in Hyderabad, will cease to exist. Ambar Cheruvu, like other water bodies in the city and surrounding areas, was part of the chain link system of the lakes and tanks which are essential for recharging ground water. Had the government had taken measures to protect lakes and other water bodies a little early, it would not have had to spend crores on getting water from Godavari and Krishna rivers to address the drinking water needs of the city,” he said.
SOUL has decided to launch a letter campaign to protect Ambar Cheruvu and other water bodies within its vicinity. “We will write letters to the Ranga Reddy district collector, HMDA and other officials to take action under Water, Land and Trees Act (WALTA) against the encroachers. If no action is forthcoming, we will approach the Lokayukta. But we hope officials will understand the gravity of the situation and take necessary steps,” say the activists.