India: Hyderabad’s historic reservoirs dry despite heavy rain

Hyderabad: While the major and minor irrigation dams and other bodies across Telangana were overflowing after incessant rains for more than a week, Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar – the two principle and historic sources of drinking water for Hyderabad – remain dry.

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In a shock for citizens, both reservoirs did not get any significant outflow with half of the monsoon season over.

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While environmentalists were raising a red flag over the illegal construction around both reservoirs and warned that these activities were strangulating the water bodies, Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply Board officials said that unlike the other parts of Telangana, Hyderabad did not get much water.

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Significantly Osman Sagar (also known as Gandipet) on the river Musi and Himayat Sagar on the river Eisa were built during the reigns of last Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan after the great floods of 1908 had devastated Hyderabad and killed thousands. Apart from controlling the floods the main purpose of the dams was to develop them as a source of drinking water for the fast developing city in the first quarter of 20th century.

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It was during later decades that reservoirs on the river Manjira and Krishna emerged as the bigger sources of drinking water supply to the city.

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The present situation of the Asif Jahi era reservoirs is so bad that against the full tank level capacity of 3.9 tmc feet, Osman Sagar has only 0.024 tmc feet of water. Similarly Himayat Sagar against 2.967 tmc feet capacity has only 0.316 tmc feet.

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Experts and environmentalists note that the systematic destruction of these two water bodies to use the prime land for real estate development had started more than two decades ago. Various factors including the digging of ditches around the reservoirs and construction of farm house, resorts and big commercial and residential buildings in violation of rules had become big obstacles in the flow of rain water into the water bodies. Building of check dams in catchment areas and excavations, and laying of roads were also other factors which contributed to the degradation of massive water bodies.

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Farm houses

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One flaring example of the violations was the development of Shamshabad International Airport in the catchment areas of Himayat Sagar. Similarly hundreds of farm houses have also come up in the vicinity of the reservoirs blocking the natural channels of water.

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“It was ten years ago that one saw water reaching Full Tank Level in both the lakes”, a senior official of Hyderabad Metro Water Board said.

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However no official of the Board was willing to make a formal comment on the condition of the reservoirs.

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With hardly any water flow and grass growing on their beds, both the reservoirs not far from each other have now become a grazing land for cattle.

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The issue of encroachment of the lands in and around the lake came into sharp focus this year with the opposition parties alleging that Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s son and a senior minister himself K Taraka Rama Rao bought a big farm house in the lake area. The matter is pending before the state High Court. The minister has denied the allegations of any wrong doing.

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The Morning and Evening Brief

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