• Authorities ridiculed for ‘less rain water’ utterances
  • Mismanagement could add to summer worries

Hyderabad: Satellite images of Hyderabad’s twin reservoirs, Osmansagar and Himayatsagar, since 2018 show that this summer will be harder for the people of the city. Though authorities say the situation would not as bad as is being projected because water will be drawn from Krishna and Godavari rivers, the bigger question about the future of the two lifelines of the city continues to haunt.

Satellite images of Osmansagar from the past three years reveal how drastically the inflow into the reservoir has reduced despite heavy rains.

Although, monsoon was bountiful, Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMSWWB) presently supplies only 24 million litres (ML) of water from Osmansagar and 21 ML from Himayatnagar. This is expected to come down in the coming months.

According to official reports, Osmansagar could supply only 88 million litres (ML) of water last September while it was down to 77 million litres in the very next month. When the capacity of Osmansagar in February of last year was 1.153 TMC, exactly a year later it now stands reduced by 0.037.

While HMSWWB continues to find fault with lack of downpour in catchment areas such as Shankarpally, Chilkur, Vikarabad, Kanapur and Himayatnagar, city environmentalists are blaming rampant encroachment for the deluge.

VL Praveen Kumar, Director Technical, HMWSSB, told NewsMeter that they are utilising only 24ML water from Osmansagar and 21ML from Himayatsagar every day.

“The condition was better last year. Hyderabad received more than normal rainfall. However, it was wayward as only some parts received good rain.”

Meanwhile, he said that there is no need to panic because water would be drawn from Krishna and Godavari rivers in summer.

On the other hand, environmentalists wonder why people have to pay more for water.

Thakur Rajkumar Singh, an environmental activist, who approached the National Green Tribunal in 2016, regarding GO 111 violations, said, “We buy water for Rs seven per litre from Krishna and Godavari. Also since Hyderabad is at a higher altitude the electricity charge associated with pumping water from these two rivers is also high. All these charges are indirectly paid by the tax payer. Investing crores of money, two dams were also constructed. Why can’t the authorities directly pump this water into the two reservoirs? They will not do it because once the reservoirs are full, many encroachments in the area will be gone. In spite of the stay on GO 111, encroachments are still happening in the catchment areas of Osmansagar and Himayatsagar,” Rajkumar said.

“I stay 8 km away from Gandipet. The catchment area of Osmansagar spreads over 15,000 square kilometres. The region has received enough rainfall this monsoon. Therefore, we cannot stand the argument that there is not enough downpour. If we are able to restore all the inlet and outlet channels of both Osmansagar and Himayatsagar, and protect the catchment area we will get sufficient water for two years. One seasonal rainfall is sufficient for two years. Here we are unable to store the free rainwater and use it properly. You don’t need to pump or even purify the rainwater. Instead of ulitizing our natural resources, the authorities are looting the benefits of farmers by pumping water from Krishna and Godavari. “

It is endorsed by Dr C Ramachandraiah, Professor in Urban Studies (CESS), who says, “To accept the government’s claim that there was no sufficient rainfall, we need more profound studies at the ground level. Considering the vast rain, the reservoirs should be full by this time. However, it’s a known fact that the inflow channels that bring water to the twin reservoirs are obstructed or encroached by illegal constructions. Rainwater has to first fill the irrigation tanks in catchment areas and ponds on farms. From here, the fresh inflow happens towards the reservoir. However, today, we don’t have these tanks and ponds to facilitate the fresh-inflow.”

Another activist, Dr Lubna Sarwath, Convener of Save Our Urban Lakes (SOUL) in Hyderabad, said,” Indian meteorological data says that there was 66% excess rainfall in Ranga Reddy district. Right inside Osmansagar, there are constructions, and all the inflow channels have been blocked. They have no intention of restoring those channels and filling the Sagar.”

(Image credits: Pradeep Goud Macharla)

Dheeshma Puzhakkal

Dheeshma Puzhakkal is currently a Reporter with Newsmeter. An alumnus of Hyderabad Central University, she has interned with Greater Kashmir newspaper and NDTV. Dheeshma has also made short films and documentaries. Her documentary ‘Still I Rise’, which is based on sex-trafficking in Hyderabad’s Old City, has earned accolades in several film festivals, such as International Documentary and Short Film Festival, Kerala (IDSFFK). An avid foodie, she loves to travel and listen to stories that others tell. Photography is one of her all-time interests. She has extensively written on satellite-based journalism, health, consumer, and data stories besides covering anti-crime investigative agencies.

One comment on "Satellite images of Osmansagar, Himayatsagar show summer will be harder in Hyderabad"

  • To: The Managing Director Hyderabad
    HMWS&SB 25th February 2020

    CC: CM, CS & Executive Director of HMWS&SB

    Sub: Complaint against HMWS&SB Officials negligence and manipulated tactics

    Dear Sir,

    “It appears that to compensate water losses of around 50-55%, the HMWS&SB collecting by adapting manipulative methods from the public”

    “It appears that HMWS&SB looking at ineffective pits over the effective tanks/lakes for re-charging of groundwater”

    “It appears that HMWS&SB has been neglecting the protection [from encroachments & pollution] of water bodies that provides safe groundwater recharging; and GHMC has been neglecting the protection [from encroachments & converting it in to dustbins-burning] of greenbelts-parks that provides the pure environment”

    “Whom to blame: Bureaucrats or Politicians”

    Let me bring to your notice some facts that need corrective steps in the running of the system of HMWS&S.

    General issues-1: In the year 2001 Hyderabad District Collector’s Office created a “Water Conservation Committee”. I was a member of the committee along with (late) Prof. Naidu [on whose name SC order of 2000 on GO111 stands]. (Late) Prof. Naidu got a map of water bodies prepared by NRSA and the same was submitted to HMWS&SB along with the details of 932 water bodies in HUDA area.
    I was given the task of preparing the action plan on clauses VI and IX of Neeru-Meeru action plan (Phase-III) document at a meeting held on 24th April 2001 at HMWS&SB Conference hall. I submitted my report relating rainwater harvesting pits versus protecting tanks. I suggested:
    • (a) Metro Water Board must bring down the water losses due to leakages from 40% to 10-15%; (b) the government must pass a GO that no construction should take place during March to June [here the labour could be effectively utilized in desilting of tanks/lakes works]; (c) Avoid water-harvesting works in unhygienic areas, open sewage flow areas, areas polluted by industrial effluents, etc. —.; (d) Avoid water harvesting in areas where solid waste dumps are located; (e) Avoid water harvesting in areas where biomedical waste dumps are located (particularly in hospital premises), etc. Also I proposed to protect water bodies, as they form most effective recharging source over ineffective pits. However, nowadays some individuals/colonies are presenting stories that Pits have improved the groundwater levels???
    General issues-2: HMWS&SB simply watching the destruction of two drinking water supplying lakes, namely Himayatsagar & Osmansagar. Though environmental groups have been fighting to protect them but the HMWS&SB has been simply watching the destruction, though they are the party to protect them. They were included in the Memo No.14046/I1/07 dated 12-10-2007 and Lake Protection Committee [G.O.Ms.No.157 dated 6/4/2010; issued instead of Lake Protection Authority] issued by MA&UD Department of Govt. of AP with reference my PIL [W.P.No.9386/07]. Though heavy rainfall lashes the area, water entered in to these two lakes was nil and now they are highly polluted. Now the government decided to destroy them to serve the vested groups for a huge price and at the same time making the areas as “addas” to anti-social activities and thus destroy the younger generation. Same has been proposed for water bodies and Musi to mint thousands of crores through this process.
    Specific issues: It appears that to compensate huge water losses – we see now a day every other day Krishna pie or Godavari pipe blown up – HMWS&SB has invented in 2020 a new system to counter this by inflated units and thus non-linear increase in bill value.
    For example: Water is released on alternate days at specified time [around 10 am to my house] – opposite lane to Padmalaya Studio lane on Road No. 78 of JBH-III. So normally we keep open the valve before the meter. I used to get 10% on either side of the average metered units. But in January 2020 as a new year’s gift the metered value price has gone up by 4-5 times of normal bill. 06/02/2020 bill showed 27 units but previous month bill showed 93 units. I questioned the meter reader how suddenly gone up the units used? He expressed ignorance. When he came for the meter reading in February, he told me that few others also got such accelerated bill. When officials visited my house, few days back for verification of illegal connections if any, I told the incident. They simply asked me to contact so and so. On talking with few friends, they expressed that now a day they are releasing air that turns the meter. Also, sometimes water is released in non-specified times that make wastage of water by overflowing the tank. The present local linemen go on leave with nobody to turn the valve and so no water supply. I am supposed to get water on 24th but no supply. On 25th they provided water to collect for drinking purpose only. This may be every body’s problem and many have no time to question as they can get Tanker.
    You know that I have developed excellent greenbelt in and around my house but I don’t get fresh air basically because (a) smoke & smell from burning of garbage in the greenbelt/park and wood as firewood by hut dwellers in this vicinity and (b) dust & noise pollution created by heavy machineries [day and night] used to dig and cut rocks for house building.
    Appreciate to look in to these issues to save water and save the metered water users.

    With Regards

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
    Convenor, Forum for a Sustainable Environment
    [email protected]

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