HYDERABAD: Ahead of the Ganesh Chathurthi festivities, Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) is in the process of setting up baby ponds across 20 lakes in the city.
However, most of these lakes are in dire need of water conservation. For instance, the Nagole lake is half covered with water hyacinth plant. Though fenced, the lake has still been encroached and is in a state of neglect. Much to the dismay of all, the lake has already a pond in it, which was built last year for immersion of Ganesh idols. The corporation had built 10 ponds last year.
The corporation is spending a whopping amount of `1 crore on the construction of a new baby pond on the same premises. On the other hand, GHMC maintains that a new pond has to be constructed.
“That is a small pond, not sure why was it constructed though. We will be constructing a 43x43 metre baby pond for Ganesh Chaturthi immersions inside the Nagole lake,” said Y Shekhar Reddy, executive engineer North Tanks Division (EE-NTD) of GHMC. “This is being done to avoid pollution as the public dump debris during other festivals too in the lake. The baby pond will help us clear the debris better,” he added.
Lake activist and Save Our Urban Lakes co-convenor Lubna Sarwath says that lakes have a buffer zone of 13 metres as per law and any construction within that area is illegal. However, a GHMC official said that the construction activity within the lake bed was not in violation of any Act. GHMC aims at fencing the lakes Meanwhile, the official admitted water hyacinth could kill the aquatic life in Nagole and other lakes across the city. But GHMC for now is focussing on fencing the lakes.
“Water quality is secondary for now we are focusing on avoiding lake encroachments,” said Reddy. GHMC has so far fenced 35 lakes out of the 63 lakes they plan to fence. “The poor quality of water is due to sewerage disposal into the lake. We have sent proposals for the comprehensive development of 20 lakes to the Union government,” he added.In recent months, GHMC has been in a tussle with the state government for funds for comprehensive lake development. The civic body requested the state government for fund, the state in turn sought it from the Centre.
‘Construction of pond not illegal’
GHMC officals say the construction of baby ponds within lake catchment area is not illegal. However, the numerous laws, Government and court orders say otherwise:
Indian Penal Code 277: ‘Fouling water of public spring or reservoir’
Telangana Area Irrigation Act 1357F
Telangana Area Land Revenue Act 1317F (Rules 1951)
WALTA Act 2002 and WALTA Rules 2004