Pollution Board pulls up Secunderabad Cantt for releasing untreated sewage into lake

After repeated complaints from local citizens, PCB inspected the lake and found that untreated sewage was being released into it.
Pollution Board pulls up Secunderabad Cantt for releasing untreated sewage into lake
Pollution Board pulls up Secunderabad Cantt for releasing untreated sewage into lake
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In a major win for citizens, the Telangana Pollution Control Board (PCB) has issued a notice to the Secunderabad Cantonment Board (SCB) after it found that untreated sewage generated from surrounding colonies was being let into lake.

PCB officials had inspected the lake and its surroundings on February 21 this year, and during inspection, it was observed that untreated sewage was being let into the lake. This was resulting in the water getting polluted and causing inconvenience to local citizens.

"There are pigs and mosquitoes breeding nearby and one can see dead animals being dumped into this lake. Open defecation is rampant near the lake and people have been falling ill very often. While a number of rules exist on paper with respect to environmental protection, laws on solid waste management and control of pollution in water bodies do not seem to apply to the SCB," N Venkata Ramana, a local citizen said.

Ramana has been fighting on the issue for several years, as he had filed the first complaint on June 18, 2011.

In their recent complaint to the PCB, the citizens had earlier alleged that a culvert running from Lal Bazaar and adjourning colonies like Padmanabha colony, Airlines colony, Surya Avenue, Sri Lakshmi Narasimha colony, Srinagar Colony, Malani Enclave, etc., was carrying sewage water directly into the lake.

Jurisdiction battle

Initially, the SCB denied that it was responsible for the lake and said that the water body came under the control of Telangana's Tourism Department.

However, after the department denied these claims, residents alleged that the SCB failed to take actions despite repeated complaints.

They even wrote to Malkajgiri MP Malla Reddy, who in turn wrote to Hyderabad Collector Yogita Rana and SCB CEO SVR Chandrashekar, demanding that restoration of the lake must be undertaken.

The Secunderabad Cantonment Board (SCB) is a local municipal authority, that comes under the administrative control of the Ministry of Defence, and functions as a local self-government.

Half the members on the board are civilians, while the other half are military nominations.

The lake comes under ward 7 of the SCB and despite repeated appeals to the board by the local Congress-affiliated ward member, P Bhagyasree, no action had been taken in the last several years.

In August last year, SCB Engineer Balakrishna inspected the area and found that sewage lines were constructed only up to this lake and sewage water was let out into this lake. In September, a joint survey was conducted by senior officials of the SCB, who inspected all the open drains and underground pipelines connected to the lake.

The survey also found that a storm water drain, which was laid under the Malani Enclave Park later had sewage diverted to it from Chinna Kamela, due to which sewage water had entered into several houses in the former colony during the monsoon.

Citizens demand action

Citizens say that their fundamental right to life in an unpolluted environment under Article 21 of the Indian constitution was being violated by the SCB.

“This small lake has become a serious health hazard due to accumulation of sewage in the tank and the work of laying a pipe around the water body to divert the discharge of sewer water has to be undertaken on a priority basis, in the interest of health and hygiene of the residents of Trimulgherry,” Ramana said.

“Firstly, letting sewage water into this lake is a criminal activity. Those who have done this should also have disciplinary action initiated against them,” he added.

Meanwhile, the PCB said that a sample of the surface water and inlet of the lake were analysed, which showed that the water body was clearly contaminated with sewage.

It ordered the SCB to take immediate action to avoid further pollution of the lake, due to sewage water.

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