Lake lovers of Hyderabad, experts form People's Committee to study GO 111, twin reservoirs

The committee will study the peril that Hyderabad faces due to the seismic activity in the 10 km buffer zone, the unpredictability of the high-intensity rains and the government overlooking the danger of tampering with the highly eco-sensitive area of the catchment areas.

By Nimisha S Pradeep  Published on  31 March 2022 11:38 AM GMT
Lake lovers of Hyderabad, experts form Peoples Committee to study GO 111, twin reservoirs

Hyderabad: On 31 March, lake lovers in the city announced the decision to form a People's Committee to study the two dams – Himayat Sagar and Osman Sagar – and to examine the necessity to enact a law to conserve the entire terrain from Ananthagiri Hills to the filter beds of the two reservoirs.

The People's Committee will comprise three members – Dr. K. Baburao, retired chief scientist at Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), Hyderabad; Sagar Dhara, UNEP consultant and co-convenor of South Asian People's Action against Climate Crisis; and Dr. Rama Lingehswara Rao, retired chief scientist, National Geographic Research Institute (NGRI), Hyderabad.

Explaining the role of the committee, Lubna Sarwath, the convenor of Long Live Lakes Campaign, said, "The People's Committee will study the peril that Hyderabad city faces due to the seismic activity in the 10 km buffer zone, as well as the unpredictability of the high-intensity rains and due to government overlooking, the danger of tampering with the highly eco-sensitive area of the catchment area of the two dams that save the city from unpredictable floods. It will also examine the unsustainability of the government's plans to draw waters for the city from as far as 100-300 km."




Another important thing the committee will examine is the necessity of the enactment of a law to conserve the entire terrain from Anantagiri Hills to the filter beds of the two reservoirs. It will also look into the strengthening of GO 111.

The committee will submit its report within six months.

Lubna informed that all financial requirements of the committee will be met through crowdsourcing and the committee's financial statement will be in the public domain.

Drinking water needs of Hyderabad

Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao on 10 March had announced in the state Assembly that GO 111 will be repealed as the Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar lakes have become redundant now and that they are no more the drinking water sources of the city. He also said that the city was now receiving 40tcft drinking water from Mallannasagar reservoir located around 100 km from the city.

Lubna questioned the truth of the facts presented by the Chief Minister in the Assembly and asked, "According to the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWSSB) website, even yesterday 80 million gallons of water was drawn from Osman Sagar and 20 million gallons of water from Himayat Sagar. How can the Chief Minister call the two reservoirs redundant?"

Prevention of floods

Lubna further said that these two dams were constructed in the first place to prevent flooding. The Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar dams were constructed in 1917 and 1921 on tributaries Moosa and Esa during the Nizam's rule by S. Visweshwarayya. It was built with the primary resolve that the 1908 devastating floods that happened in the Musi river should never happen again. "The intense rains in July and October 2020 and 2021 proved the role of these two dams in protecting Hyderabad from floods," Lubna said and asked, "At a time when we are experiencing climate change, unseasonal rains, heat, and flooding in cities, why is there a need to remove GO 111?"

Earlier, on 20 and 27 March, lake conservationists, environmentalists, politicians, scientists, and civil society had gathered to discuss the consequences of the suspension of GO 111.

Encroachments inside catchment areas, reservoirs

Lubna also explained the already existing encroachments she discovered inside the catchment areas and the reservoirs during her field visits. With a map from HMWSSB, she explained, "On the map, it is marked as a compound wall but when I went there for the survey, I found that they were illegal constructions. Because of these encroachments, several gates have to be opened during heavy rains."

Where is the govt committee report?

As per GO 839, the government had formed a committee in 2016 to study the role of Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar in supplying water to the city. It has been six years since its formation, yet no report has been put in the public domain. The lake enthusiasts and environmentalists also demand scrapping that committee. Lubna questioned the competency of this committee as it mostly constituted bureaucrats and not subject experts.

Besides Lubna, Sree Harsha Thaneeru of Rythu Swarajya Vedika (RSV), and lake activist Prameela Kumari were also present at the meeting held in Lamakaan in Banjara Hills.

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