news Thursday, June 04, 2015 - 05:30
"It was the year 2000 when this place was inaugrated. There was crystal clear, blue water and trees everywhere. I used to come here every evening for a walk and it was a welcome change from all the traffic that you hear on that side," says retired army officer Ramesh, as he is taking a walk at the Safilguda Lake Park. Once called the "Mini tank bund," the lake was spread out over 5 acres and a pleasant picnic spot for families. Boats bobbed on the lake as migratory birds like Siberian cranes visited every year. But now, the lake's ecosystem is under threat, as garbage and sewage adds up. The Safilguda lake park used to serve as a lung space for people who live in the nearby residential area. Now the lake offers a sorry image. Sewage from the adjoining buildings finds its way into the lake through the day, and people dump their garbage into the lake regularly. Despite being restored under the lake conservation programme around 10 years ago, Ganesh idols are also immersed in the lake during the festivities of 'Ganesh Chaturthi' every year. Adding to that, many visitors also dump their puja materials from a nearby temple into the lake. The approaching monsoons only spell more doom for the visitors as the entire area gets filled with stagnant water and acts as a breeding ground for disease ridden mosquitoes. The lake park, which comes under the authority of the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA), has seen years of neglect despite protests. "The first facility to go was the free drinking water. Then the canteen and boating facilities followed. Now there is hardly anything here," says a frequent visitor at the park.  (The canteen has been closed for nearly seven years now and shows no signs of re-opening) A few years ago, a small island like structure in the centre of the lake was created and several trees were planted. It was a patch of rich diversity, with ducks, cuckoos, pigeons, doves, parrots and even kingfishers nestling in at the structure.  "Being able to watch Kingfishers diving in from a tree and catching fishes used to be such a treat. Now look at the place," says Sudha, who has been coming to the lake for many years now. That patch now is now a mound of putrid-smelling green algae, with an abandoned pedal boat from the lake's golden era just lying by the island, slowly decaying. Even the ambitious 'Swachh Hyderabad' campaign by the state government has failed to take notice of the lake park. Litter bins that were put up in the park see more garbage around it than inside it. Despite all this, the lake park, which has no entry fee, receives a few hundred visitors every day, only emphasizing its potential as a tourist spot.

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