HYDERABAD: More than 150 crores of the 183 crores loan granted by the World Bank for remediation of the polluted lake Noor Mohammad Kunta (NMK), once notoriously called the pink lake of Hyderabad, is set to lapse, thanks to official apathy. While the state government has not been doing much to control pollution of lakes, inability to even utilise the available funds shows its seriousness towards the issue.
In 2010, the World Bank sanctioned $ 64.15 million to India for ‘Capacity Building for Industrial Pollution Management’ (CBIPM) project which included remediation of two polluted sites in the then Andhra Pradesh and one in West Bengal (WB).
Of this about $25.21 million, which was then valued at about Rs183 crore, was meant for remediation of NMK. The deadline for the project was 2015 which was later extended to September 2017 on the request of the state government. A major hurdle in implementation for the project has been the dispute over ownership of land on the lake, over which a structure has to be constructed for storage and treatment of lake water. Although it has been two years since the World Bank has agreed for extension of the project, the steering committee of CBIPM project has not been able to confirm yet if the disputed land is owned by private person or the government.
The steering committee consists of bureaucrats including member secretary of TSPCB, commissioners of HMDA and GHMC, special chief secretary of environment department, principal secretaries of finance and MA&UD, vice-chairman of TSIIC and director of NGRI. It was only recently that the Ranga Reddy collector ordered a survey of the disputed land, after a person claiming to be the owner of the land approached Hyderabad High Court.
The December 2016 report by World Bank on status of CBIPM project in TS, clearly stated that “The third sub-project, NMK lake at Hyderabad in Telangana, even if awarded immediately would require at least 12 months for implementation and hence will not be completed within the current closing period of the project.” Of the J183 crore, Telangana State Pollution Control Board (TSPCB) was able to utilise only J22.6 crore till 2014-15 on refurbishment of TSPCB labs but no work on remediation of lake. The only work which can be seen is the construction of a fence around a portion of the lake. However, this is not the first case where the loan amount was not spent. While CBIPM projects in AP and WB are also progressing slow, the situation is better than in TS. As per World Bank’s June 2017 status report, 70 pc and 50 pc works would be completed in AP and WB respectively by September 2017 end.