Lake Stench
A series of measures have been taken to clean the lake, but these have been ineffective.
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A lovely view from one’s balcony is something all of us look for when selecting a house. But despite having such houses, people residing near Hussain Sagar or Tank Bund have to keep their doors and windows closed, and cannot venture onto their balconies. The reason: the foul odour emanating from the lake.

Twenty-eight-year-old Deepti told The News Minute, ‘’I have got this wonderful view of Hussain Sagar Lake from my home, but unfortunately I cannot open my windows neither can I enjoy the breeze. All I am left with is the stench from tank bund. We had invested in the home for the view and the fact that it has such good ventilation and air but every day we are forced to wake up to the stench. We are anxiously waiting for the government to do something about the tank bund as promised’’.

The problem is most evident in the summer, and is a major let-down for Hyderabad, since Hussain Sagar is one of the most famous tourist spots in the city. Hussain Sagar which was constructed in 1562 was the first source of water supply in Hyderabad before Himayat Sagar and Osman Sagar were built.

The Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA), which has been alerted of this problem numerous times, had taken up a series of measures to clean the lake, but these have been ineffective, and the foul smell still continues to annoy tourists and nearby residents.

Zachary Phalange, a foreign tourist who visited Hussain Sagar some months ago, had posted the Facebook page for Hussain Sagar saying, ‘’Large bodies of water traditionally make for great tourist attractions but this was an extreme letdown. The lake smells bad possibly due to it being a sewage collection zone’’. 

The lake is severely polluted with floating waste material such as polythene bags, covers, plastics, food-wrappers, debris from the immersion of idols during festivals, domestic sewerage and solid waste from Balkapur, Banjara, Kukatpally and industrial effluents from Kukatpally Nala.

Hussain Sagar during Ganesh Immersion

HMDA had also taken up a project with funding from the Japan International Cooperation Agency(JICA) in November 2012 to restore Hussain Sagar lake to its earlier glory. The target of this project is to ensure that the water is cleaned enough to be of bathing quality in the long run. All the sewage coming to Hussain Sagar has been diverted away from the lake by constructing Interception and Diversion Pipelines according to the project’s Facebook page.

The objectives and developments of this project include: Two Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) completed and commissioned in Nov 2013 are releasing 50 Manual lymphatic drainage(MLD) treated water of highest quality in the lake, Dredging of sediments from the confluence of 3 nallas and lake in a radius of 500 meters has been completed, removal of sediments and aeration on Kukatpally nalla at Necklace road has started in December 2014, the Dissolved Oxygen levels that were earlier Nil have now reached 4-5 mg/l, lots of aquatic fauna is also reappearing in the lake, entire shoreline is restored through greenery, parks, small ponds and walkways around the periphery that makes Hussain Sagar look very beautiful, regular picking of garbage, plastics and other solid waste from the shores is done on a daily basis to maintain a clean and beautiful look.

A Clean Hussain Sagar Campaign has also been launched since November 2013 to highlight the efforts on cleaning the lake as well as encourage citizens about the need to prevent littering of the lake. Despite all these efforts, the situation has not changed. 

Senior Lake activist Subba Rao, told The News Minute, ‘’The whole problem is that we cannot clean the lake unless we address the source area of where the water comes from and Hussain Sagar is almost spread around 280 sq. km and also has several industrial associations. How can you clean up this lake without bringing management practices and that was the thing which was totally neglected? We have to be more stringent in industrial areas, just diverting the lake to Musi river will not save the lake’’. 

Speaking about the financial implications, he said, ‘’Everybody is focusing on cleaning of the lake but no one is talking about financial implications. JICA gave a loan of Rs 350 crores for the restoration project of Hussain Sagar Lake in 2012 and the project is going to end very soon but where are the results’’.

‘’From past many years,s the government is trying to clean the lake under this project but where is the result? There is no debate on the loans which government is taking and, our future generations will have to pay the interests of these loans and they will only face the financial implications, I don’t want my future generation to pay these loans without any successful results, he added.