Amid a spate of rain in Hyderabad in October 2020, the Gurram Chevuru Lake bund broke, causing floods in the nearby Hafiz Baba Nagar.

Vehicles struggling to travel across a muddy road
news Floods Tuesday, July 27, 2021 - 18:13

When TNM first met with Syed Shafi on October 18, 2020, he was clearing silt and trying to salvage what he could from his shop, Deccan Tours and Mobile, in Hyderabad’s Hafiz Baba Nagar. Ten months later, Shafi is yet to recover from the economic loss he suffered that day. “I had to shut shop and vacate the premises, there were no customers after the flood. I am now unemployed,” Shafi says. He, along with many others, were affected by floods when the bund of the overflowing Gurram Cheruvu lake broke amid heavy rains in Hyderabad last year. The resulting flash floods inundated the area, affecting close to a lakh of its residents. Hafiz Baba nagar is yet to recover from the aftermath of the floods.

“Most of the residents, who were tenants, moved away and the business had dropped to a point where I couldn't pay rent,” Shafi shares. He also says that he did not receive the Rs 10,000 that the state government had promised to those affected by the floods last year. “My shop faces the bund that broke and took a major brunt of the flash flood, but I didn't get any assistance,” he  adds. Shafi is also a resident of the colony.

Local residents say that Hafiz Baba Nagar is not a stranger to floods. “This area always had a flooding problem but that October flood, it really affected us all,” says Satish, who runs a hair salon in the colony. “Everything inside my shop had to be replaced and I took out a loan to buy new things and do repairs,” he shares, adding that even with all these measures, business is still not looking good. “A new barbershop opened two blocks away, taking away customers. A lot of shopkeepers vacated after suffering damage in the flash flood, so a lot of new shops have come up in the area,” he adds.

Most of those affected by the floods in 2020 were tenants from low-income groups. Many that TNM spoke to in the aftermath of the floods last year have moved away since then. Abdur Rahman, an intermediate student, says that his friends’ families moved to other parts of the city as they could not afford the rent in Hafiz Baba Nagar anymore.

“I helped a few of them move houses, we were part of the cleanup effort. No one had come then to help us clear this area, the municipal officials came to spray some disinfectants and I never saw them again. This locality has always been in a state of neglect,” the youth alleges, pointing to a stretch of the Balapur road which was washed away last year and has still not been repaired. Riding vehicles on the stretch, which is riddled with potholes, also causes road accidents, Abdur adds. 

Read: ‘How did the Balapur bund at Hyderabad’s Gurram Cheruvu break?’: Residents ask

The part of the Gurram Cheruvu Lake bund that broke away has since been fixed with gravel and concrete. Irrigation Department officials had even made a pathway in the middle of the lake at the time, as part of their efforts to save the lake from encroachment. The pathway connects Hafiz Baba Nagar to Barkas on the other side of the lake. However, with the onset of monsoon and heavy showers, parts of this walkway, built using mud from the lake, have already begun wearing down.

“They have piled up the debris from the floods at the location where the bund broke. If the lake overflows again, what is the guarantee that it won’t break again? A few of us approached the local corporator with our concerns but nothing came of it,” says an angry Mohammad Nisar, another resident of the Hafiz Baba Nagar colony. “We had raised the road issue also with the corporator, but again no response. If we question them, their goons create problems,” he alleges.

The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) corporator for Chandrayangutta, Abdul Wahab of the AIMIM party, was unavailable for comment. An official with the GHMC’s engineering wing told TNM that works to make lakes and their associated nalas (stormwater drains) flood proof will be carried out under the Strategic Nala Development Plan (SNDP). The plan involves redesigning stormwater drains and building new ones, apart from other projects aimed at flood prevention. The Telangana government has allocated Rs 854 crore for the same, and has released tenders for some of the works.

Read: With desilting works delayed this year, will Hyderabad experience floods again?

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