For the protection of around 185 lakes and water bodies that are under the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) limits in Hyderabad, the Municipal Administration and Urban Development department has appointed a Special Cell with a designated Special Commissioner as its head. The special cell will be under the supervision and control of the Principal Secretary of Municipal Administration and Urban Development, as per the official orders issued by the government of Telangana on October 4, 2021.
A year ago, in October 2020, heavy rains had wreaked havoc in Hyderabad. The city has become notorious for flooding during heavy rains, especially due to overflowing lakes. Several people from low-lying areas had to be relocated as the lake bunds broke, causing inundation of several areas during rains last year. The same reason was also mentioned in the official order and said that now steps will be taken to prevent the same in the future.
“Over a period of time, the net area of the water bodies has been reduced due to encroachment. The outflow channels have been encroached in a few cases, adversely affecting the ‘chain of tanks’ concept. As a result, there have been cases of overflow from these lakes and breach of bunds etc., whenever it rains heavily,” read the order. The ‘chain of tanks’ refers to a system of interconnecting the lakes with underground channels to manage excess water. Many of the lakes in the city are linked to one another underground, from high lying areas to low lying areas. This set up was made during the Nizam period. This would ensure that when one lake would get filled to capacity, water would go from there to another connected lake in the low-lying area, preventing flooding. However, this system has been disrupted due to unplanned urbanisation and encroachments.
The Special Commissioner of Lakes will be responsible for the comprehensive management of these lakes and water bodies, which will include preparing a master plan for each water body to manage the water flow into the lakes scientifically and to prevent further encroachments of the water bodies.
One of the long-pending issues in several areas is the flow of sewage into the water bodies. To address this, the special commissioner is to take care and scientifically manage and take up diversion works. It was also said that the Special Cell would take up beautification of lakes and increase the green cover in the buffer areas, while taking up regular cleaning of the lakes and to see that lakes are free from water hyacinth. It was also added that the protection and rejuvenation of the lakes can be taken up by involving corporate companies under their Corporate Social Responsibility funds.
While doing the above activities, the order said that this Special Cell would use inter-departmental and inter-disciplinary approaches and has to coordinate between the Revenue Department, Irrigation Department, GHMC and other departments when required.