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Citizens Initiative for saving water bodies in Hyderabad

Representation of SOUL during the public meeting organized by HMDA on 24th Nov 2012:


SOUL would like to congratulate HMDA for initiating this long overdue public meeting with citizens in connection with Cleaning Hussain Sagar Lake (HSL)!

We would like to make the following submissions/suggestions for taking the process beyond a onetime meeting – so that it evolves into an ongoing going process of collaborative decision making based on integration of candid and unbiased perspectives emerging from civil society platform such as SOUL.

SOUL is a network of various NGOS, individuals, networks etc. that have come together predominantly for working towards protection and rehabilitation of urban water bodies in city of Hyderabad.

Cause of un-cleanliness of HSL:

The Hussain Sagar Lake is highly polluted by a mixture of industrial effluents and untreated sewage entering it as pollutants. It also receives two types of solid wastes. The first is in the form of packing for consumer articles eg, plastic and the second is at the time of immersion of Ganesh idols, which have increased not only in size and numbers but also in the steel, plaster of paris, toxins from paints, and heavy metals including carcinogens like chromium, arsenic, cadmium and nickel.

Domestic waste waters from the unsewered colonies (including slums) on the foreshore and catchment area and other activities like washing of cattle, clothes etc, defecation and littering by eating joints and crowds thronging entertainment areas, oil spills by power boats also add to the pollutants in varying degrees.The cumulative effect of all the pollutants entering the lake has been that it has not only ceased to be a drinking water source but also does not meet the water quality standards for recreation or outdoor bathing or drinking or wildlife propagation.

The nutrient levels are very high and the lake is in an advanced state of eutrophication. Anaerobic conditions prevail at the bottom of the lake, indication near absence of dissolved oxygen. The consequent presence of hydrogen sulphide with bad odour is noticeable.

More worrisome is the fact that the lake water poses cancer and non-cancer risks varying from extremely high to borderline for various pathways. Eating lake fish poses extremely high cancer and non-cancer toxic risks. Drinking lake waters poses significant cancer and non-cancer toxic risks. Swimming in the lake or bathing with its waters or consuming lake water, irrigated fruit or vegetables pose an elevated cancer and non-cancer toxic risk. And even exposure to its waters for continuous or long periods poses a borderline cancer risk.

Elevated concentrations of manganese are present in the ground water just downstream of the lake at Lower Tank Bund Road but not upstream of the lake. This suggests that heavy metals may have migrated from the lake, where they are present in lake water and sediment. Manganese is responsible for an elevated non-cancer toxic risk in the ground water at Lower Tank Bund.

Un-cleanliness is thus manifested as POLLUTION of HSL.

ANALYSES OF PROBLEM

  • In view of the above we propose that any attempt to CLEAN HSL – must begin by identifying basic CAUSES that create pollution – and then initiating a process of removing these.

  • Ignoring the underlying causative forces and merely trying to focus on constant “cleaning” remains a cosmetic approach – apart from ALLOWING polluting agencies/actions to persist in their destructive actions.

  • Major agencies that pollute HSL are industries that pour their un or partially treated effluents into the Nallas that flow into HSL 24x7 throughout the year.

  • Industrial pollution is responsible for most poisonous and carcinogenic chemical pollution – most of which is not even bio-degradable and extremely expensive and difficult (if not impossible) to treat – especially if it seeps to ground water. Industrial pollution thus results in criminal destruction of public resources by private agencies for private gain.

  • Among the industries pouring their effluents into HSL – the most dangerous chemical polluters are BULK DRUGS MANUFACTURING industries.

  • This is not only violates social justice – but is patently illegal.

  • APPCB, HMDA, GHMC, MAUD etc and various other government agencies have not shown the determination to put a stop to such persistent stream of pollution.

  • Cleanliness of HSL has to begin with a serious and honest attempt to take these industries to task – using Supreme Court Directions to use following principles: POLLUTER PAYS PRINCIPLE & PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE

  • It is shocking that there is an effort by APPCB to relax the ban on expansion of such industries that was imposed following the direction of Apex Court of this country – THIS WILL ADD TO POLLUTION NOT ONLY OF HSL BUT ALSO OF GROUND WATER AROUND INDUSTRIAL AREA – THAT IS ALREADY IN A DEPLORABLE STATE AS PER SCINTIFIC REPORTS.

  • DOMESTIC SEWERAGE pollution also flows constantly into HSL not only from surrounding localities but from entire catchment areas through the Nallas.

  • IMMERSION of polluting structures during various religious rituals also adds to pollution.

We propose:

  1. Soul and HMDA to constitute a Joint Committee (JC) - along with senior scientists, experts etc as advisors - that will meet periodically to overview the developments of HSL – including issues of encroachment, catchment destruction, review reports regarding causes and consequences of pollution from different sources and action taken reports against violations, preparation of fact sheets on HSL & JICA support for HSIP etc.

  2. Immediate Dialogue of JC with APPCB regarding status paper on industrial pollution entering HSL & action taken by APPCB to check such violations

  3. Immediate dialogue of JC with GHMC & HMWSSB regarding encroachments, inletting sewerage into HSL and separation of storm water drains from sewerage drains.

  4. Further pursuance of dialogue and negotiation with civil society regarding prevention of polluting idols in HSL with NGOs like SAVE in the forefront.

  5. HMDA to ensure transparency of all proposed projects envisaged in and around HSL.

  6. Raising awareness of decision makers about causes of destruction of HSL and how it can be saved.