The Andhra Pradesh High Court is hearing three different public interest petitions to protect the Hussainsagar lake. One seeks to prevent construction on or around the lake or its catchment area. Another aims to prevent heavy siltation due to annual immersion of idols in the lake during religious occasions.
And a third is an effort to prevent the state government from encroaching the lake for the implementation of the Rs 1,400-crore cyber city development project. However, it was the campaign to save the Saroonagar lake that received widespread attention. Built in 1664, it is the largest lake in southwestern Hyderabad. Encroachments had brought the lake’s size down from 74 hectares (ha) to 25 ha by 1993. After three fish kills in the lake, some 250 fisherfolk families decided to act. The Madannapet Fisherman Cooperative Society reported the matter to the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPBC).
The board established the cause: eutrophication caused by a big domestic drain that emptied into the lake. The fisherfolk were also opposed to a government plan to build a housing colony on the lake. Luckily for them, the municipal corporation passed a unanimous resolution against the plan. Irrigation officials, supported by local police officials, breached the old pucca bund to reduce water in the lake on several occasions.
PRAKRITI, an environmentalist group, started generating awareness about the menace to the lake. The campaign gained momentum when K L Vyas, a lecturer with Osmania University, filed a public interest petition in the High Court. The court asked for evidence. Three studies were submitted including one from the National Geophysical Research Institute, Hyderabad. The court ordered the state government to appoint the Environment Protection Training and Research Institute to prepare an action plan for the protection of Saroornagar lake. The plan is now underway.