A recent survey by Hyderabad-based activists of the Kapra Lake in Secunderabad has thrown up some disturbing results.
The lake, which was the largest one in the area a few decades ago, has now shrunk by several acres due to alleged encroachments within its Full Tank Level (FTL) and Buffer Zone.
While the FTL is the highest level till which the water reaches, the buffer zone is an extra area of land that runs parallel to the FTL, to ensure that the lake is protected.
Activists from Save Our Urban Lakes (SOUL) have alleged that the original maps of the lake were 'suppressed' from the Hyderabad High Court during its hearings and also charged government officials with "manipulation of FTL pillars".
It also claimed that the officials went to the extent of 'accommodating' the encroachment.
According to the activists, the main culprits were an open tennis court and an indoor badminton court, owned by the same man.
To prove their claims, the activists also released two static satellite images from 2000 and 2013.
The Kapra lake, which was once spread over 113 acres, turned into a cesspool around half a decade ago, following rapid urbanisation.
Several colonies and buildings sprung up around the lake, and continued dumping untreated sewage into it, thereby killing off all marine life and turning it into a stinking mess, covered with weeds.
Every year, religious ceremonies at the lake, from sacrificing animals to dumping Ganesh idols during Ganesh Chaturthi, only made things worse.
In September last year, the Hyderabad HC pulled up the state government and the Pollution Control Board (PCB) and asked what steps it had taken to protect the lake.
Even during a massive demolition drive that the Telangana government had undertaken following the rains last year, many major violators including those on Kapra Lake were spared.
The activists have now demanded an independent inquiry against the officials in charge of Kapra Lake, "for having multiple water spread area maps and curtailing lake area in each map".
They also alleged that, "Officials did not use the immovable structure, i.e, the Badminton Court, as a reference point for determining and demolishing construction, but used the manipulated FTL pillars as reference point to measure Buffer Zone. Thus, the entire structure of the court was shown outside of buffer zone area."
They have also demanded that the officials be prosecuted for manipulation of FTL pillars.