Hyderabad: Around 50% of all lakes and water bodies in and around Hyderabad city are encroached, according to a study by Telangana’s Irrigation and Command Area Development (CAD) department. The study was reportedly undertaken to analyse the reasons behind the massive flooding and waterlogging in the city due to the mid-October heavy rains.
According to the findings of the Irrigation and CAD department officials, who studied 192 lakes and waterbodies in Hyderabad, encroachments are spread across lakes -- Saroornagar lake, Gurram Cheruvu, Burhankhan Cheruvu, Durgam Cheruvu, Chandam Cheruvu, Saki Cheruvu, Nayanammakunta, Tegalsagar Cheruvu, Rayasamudram Cheruvu, Tegal Sagar, Timmakka Cheruvu and water bodies in Uppal, Kapra, Hayathnagar and Moosapet. The encroachments included large real estate ventures and public institutions.
Experts have pointed fingers at the several illegal encroachments as the main reason for flooding in Hyderabad and surrounding areas leading to the death of 33 people. The torrential rainfall on October 13-14 led to overflowing of River Musi in the city submerging low-lying areas.
According to a technical report prepared by the Society for Participatory Development, the water spread area of the main water bodies of Mir Alam, Umda Sagar and Himayat Sagar was reduced from 2199.47 hectares in 1978 to 1361.8 hectares in 2017.
According to Musi Riverfront Development Corporation Ltd (MRDCL), there are nearly 6,350 encroachments within the Musi river boundary and its buffer zone.
Further, a central government team has pegged the damage across Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation at Rs 567 crore. According to the corporation’s data, dozens of colonies in Hyderabad were waterlogged for several days.
Recommendations for Flood Prevention Ignored
The Kirloskar Consultants panel had submitted a report on the reasons for massive flooding in Hyderabad in 2000, which devastated numerous colonies and affected thousands of people.
The panel studied 72 drainage sewers and 18 water bodies including Hussain Sagar, Himayatsagar, Osman Sagar and Mir Alam Tank among others and found that large scale encroachment of lakes, improper drainage system, indiscriminate dumping of waste into water bodies were some of the key reasons that caused flooding in the city.
To stop the floods, the panel recommended rejuvenation of river Musi, development of green zones on both sides of drains, widening of drains, destruction of illegal encroachments in lakes and rejuvenation of canals connecting water bodies, among others.
However, the recommendations remain unimplemented till this date. In 2017, municipal administration minister K T Rama Rao reportedly called the recommendations impractical. Replying to a question in the Assembly, the minister said that if the Kirloskar Consultants report was to be implemented, about 28,800 properties would have to be demolished, paying around Rs 12,000 crore as compensation.
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi-led government has reportedly given financial assistance of Rs 10,000 for flood-related property damage to each of over 4.75 lakh families in and around GHMC; this amounts to Rs 475 crore.