Residents rise to protect lake in Hyderabad

RWAs in the Ramakrishnapuram Lake area have taken it upon themselves to map waterbody and demand it's protection from encroachments and better implementation of development works

This could perhaps be the story of any other lake in the twin-cities that are on the verge of death and the proposed cure to revive them threatening to be worse than the disease itself.

The Ramakrishnapuram Lake, also known as Mukidi Cheruvu, located in Neredmet, near Ramakrishnapuram Railway Station in Hyderabad, was home to many migratory birds not very long back. It provided much-needed relief and recreation to nearby residents but only till rampant pollution and slow encroachments over the years took their toll on the lake.

The lake is part of the Lake Rejuvenation Plan announced by the state government last year at an overall cost of Rs 441 crore covering some 40 lakes within the Outer Ring Road (ORR). The programme was inaugurated by the then minister of IT and Municipal Administration, KT Rama Rao, with much fanfare at the Neknampur Lake in July 2018. The minister even went ahead and tweeted the list of projects to be taken up under the programme.

Once spread over 60 acres the Ramakrishnapuram Lake reportedly covers just about 37 acres today. So much so, there is no clear measure of the extent of the waterbody, the landmass over the years or the extent of encroachments on the lakebed.
Once spread over 60 acres the Ramakrishnapuram Lake reportedly covers just about 37 acres today.

Currently, the state Irrigation Department is developing the lake by building a ring-bund for which the department is diverting drainages and clearing the lakebed of water for the clean-up purpose. However, this very act has led to the exposure of lakebed which has now attracted encroachers to start creeping on the lake, says B T Srinivasan, General Secretary, United Federation of Resident Welfare Associations, Greater Hyderabad, who is also incidentally a resident in the area.

A request to the Irrigation Department to map the lake to establish its area seems to have fallen on deaf ears with no action for the past several months. Fearful, that irreversible damage could be done even as development works are on, two of the resident welfare associations in the vicinity have taken upon themselves and hired a drone to carry out the mapping exercise over the weekend.

The footage from the exercise that was taken up by the Devinagar and Sainik Nagar resident welfare associations is an eye-opener with the all-round encroachment being exposed.

“The attempt is to prevent future encroachments on the lakebed while highlighting the extent of the water body that has already been encroached upon over the years,” adds Srinivasan. “As the surface of the lake emerges, we realise there is an existential threat to the lake itself, making it vulnerable to potential land encroachments.”

The resident associations are now planning to use this footage to goad authorities into action.

In fact it was way back in 2016, that the plight of the RK Puram lake was highlighted to the authorities with the spread of hyacinth and rampant pollution posing the threat of malaria in the at least four large colonies in the areas covering Neredmet, Malkajgiri, Moula Ali and Kapra to name just a few.

Talk of rejuvenating the lake had been on for nearly six years prior to that at a cost of over Rs 10 crore. However, no work was initiated even as encroachments continued, says a resident in the area.  With the lakebed drying up the groundwater levels in colonies surrounding it too have gone down over the years forcing many of the resident associations in the area to resort to water tankers.

“This is not an isolated case and the lakes development work being undertaken across the city is at best cosmetic without any regard to basic of the health of the lakes. There is no thought given to the water holding capacity of the waterbodies nor the extent of the lakebeds themselves being curtailed because of the works being taken up,” points out economist and lake activist, Dr.Lubna Sarwath.

Ultimately, it is sensitisation of the people themselves to the perils that the lakes are in and bringing pressure on the authorities to take up realistic development works, which will work she adds.

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  1. Madhusudhan (@Madhusu03485364) via Twitter
    No action plan for encroachments, dumping of animal wastage, we request at least do mapping and keeping boundaries for lake.