Environmentalists and activists are criticising the Telangana government for withdrawing an over 25-year-old government order protecting the historic Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar reservoirs in Hyderabad, which they say will destroy the fragile surrounding ecosystem.
GS III- Environment and Ecology
Dimensions of the Article:
- About GO111
- When and why were these reservoirs constructed?
- Government’s stand
- On March 8, 1996, the government of erstwhile (undivided) Andhra Pradesh had issued ‘Government Order (GO) 111’ prohibiting development or construction works in the catchment area of the Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar lakes up to a radius of 10 km.
- The GO prohibited the setting up of industries, residential colonies, hotels, etc. which cause pollution. The total catchment area covers around 1.30 lakh acres, spread over 84 villages.
- The aim of the restrictions was to protect the catchment area, and to keep the reservoirs pollution-free.
- The lakes had been supplying water to Hyderabad for nearly 70 years, and were the main source of drinking water for the city at the time.
When and why were these reservoirs constructed?
- The reservoirs were created by building dams on the Musi (also known as Moosa or Muchkunda) river, a major tributary of the Krishna, to protect Hyderabad from floods.
- The proposal to build the dams came after a major flood during the reign of the sixth nizam Mahbub Ali Khan (1869-1911) in 1908, in which more than 15,000 people were killed.
- The lakes came into being during the reign of the last nizam Osman Ali Khan (1911-48).
- Osman Sagar was completed in 1921, and Himayat Sagar in 1927.
- The nizam’s guesthouse at Osman Sagar is now a heritage building.
- Chief Minister said that the city no longer depends on these two reservoirs for water supply, and there was no need to continue with the restrictions on development in the catchment radius.
- Hyderabad’s drinking water requirement has increased to more than 600 million gallons per day (MGD), which is being drawn from other sources including the Krishna river; water from the two reservoirs amounts to just about 1 per cent of the daily requirement.
- However, officials said the government would continue to take measures to ensure that the water flowing into the reservoirs is not polluted, and would not allow unauthorised development or construction.
- The government has set up a committee headed by the chief secretary to frame rules and regulations of development around the two lakes.
- Several sewerage treatment plants are proposed in the area, and pipelines or canals will be dug to divert the treated water away from the lakes.
- The government also proposes to establish large green zones throughout the area, which will remain free of any development.
- The committee will recommend ways to create infrastructure in the area, especially the laying of roads and drainage pipelines, without causing too much damage.
- Construction activity will be strictly monitored and regulated.