HYDERABAD: If you think lakes in the city would be full to the brim this mon soon after the desiltation work carried out under Mission Kakatiya, think again – especially in the case of water bodies under the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA) limits.
Take for instance, the fate of the 17acre Shetti Kunta Lake in Ameenpur gram panchayat (survey no. 947) in Patancheru mandal of Medak district. Instead of a scenic water body, what we have is a concrete jungle. The lake bed has almost completely disappeared, thanks to the housing layout permission for 182 plots given by the panchayat authorities in violation of all norms.
The information was unearthed by an NGO, Human Rights Consumer Protection Cell (HRCPC) under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. To their query, the panchayat secretary admitted in his reply dated June 24 (a copy of which is with TOI) that they had issued permission to take up construction activity on the lake bed.
“What is the use of the HMDA’s Lake Protection Committee (LPC) identifying 2,857 lakes, including 176 under the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) limits for conservation, when inordinate delay in demarcation of Full Tank Levels (FTLs) is leading to illegal construction and encroachment on lake beds?” questioned HRCPC president Thakur Rajkumar Singh.
Singh alleged that construction activity is in full swing on the Shetti Kunta lake bed, with not a single official from the revenue or irrigation departments or HMDA bothering to pre vent the encroachments.
In fact, HMDA officials admitted that they could not complete FTL demarcation of all lakes despite it being more than our years since the high court forced the government to constitute an LPC n a judgment in October 2010. “We could complete FTL demarcation of only 438 lakes (out of 2,857 lakes under HMDA limits). The delay is on the part of irrigation authorities as they are holding up the approval process. A list of 1,305 lakes with FTL markings has been pending approval in the irrigation department offices in Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy, Medak, Nalgonda and Mahbubnagar for the last one year,” said a senior HMDA official.
The official alleged that HMDA has forwarded a list of 25 lakes to the irrigation department in Medak for approving their FTL demarcation, but is yet to hear from them even after one year. Not surprisingly, the FTL approval for Shetti Kunta Lake too figures in this list. “We cannot upload the FTL details on the HMDA site unless the irrigation authorities clear them,” the official said.
Meanwhile, when contacted, Som Narayana, the panchayat executive officer of Ameenpur, told TOI that they have issued layout permission for 182 plots in only 13 acres with a rider included in the House Conversion Permission that in case it is found that it violates any government order, the permission would stand cancelled.
“We know that there was a lake, but it was nowhere mentioned in any government record that it was lake bed (Shikam land). Hence, we gave away the permission,” Som Narayana said, adding that construction of 60-70 houses is currently underway while in the case of another 100 plots, the foundations are being laid.