In the year 1975 Survey of India listed that nearly there were 1,000 water bodies with exclusive aquatic flora and fauna in Hyderabad.As a matter of fact at that time Hyderabad city was called the “City of Lakes”.
When the HMDA did a count a year ago for the Lake Protection Committee, the officials could list only about 400 lakes in areas within its jurisdiction. Signi-ficantly, experts said, the number of waterbodies that have disappeared would be higher, considering HMDA’s jurisdiction comprises four districts. And if the ‘disappearance’ of about 600 lakes in 35-odd years isn’t alarming enough, even waterbodies that still exist have shrunk, with encroachments on the periphery.
Worse, the catchment area is protected in none of the lakes. With the inflow coming down drastically every year, these lakes are also set to be history in the next two decades unless encroachments are removed in the catchment, according to conservationists. Ms Jasveen Jairath, founder-convenor, Save Our Urban Lakes, said: “There is a deliberate attempt by the ruling class against upkeep of the waterbodies. They do not maintain proper data; there has been no proper documentation on waterbodies (in Hyderabad) since the 1975 Survey of India.
“The nexus between the real estate mafia and the political class is eating away the city’s water resources.” Historian Dr Muhammed Safiuallah recalled that most areas in Hyderabad with the prefix or suffix kunta, talab or tank were named after waterbodies that existed in the area.
But that, again, was then. “The famous ‘Masab Tank’ does not exist any more, neither does ‘Talab Katta’, where the famous Sha Hatim Talab once was,” Dr Safiuallah said.
He also said that Hussainsagar lake used to be measureless the Necklace Road and most of the lake bed and the catchment area was eaten away by railway tracks.