Dry cleaning Hussainsagar
Telangana plans to first empty Hyderabad's great lake and then refill it with rainwater. Experts say it is nothing but a harebrained plan UrbLanakes
Chis farsighted idea to restore ALL IT the health of a lake or plain blunder, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao is determined to clean up the fabled Hussainsagar first by emptying it and then refilling it with rainwater.In February,Rao directed the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (ghmc) to start pumping out the water and clean the 16th century lake before monsoon arrives.
While the authorities are yet to begin work,conservationists say it is an impractical venture.
For one, emptying a lake that spans 141 hectares with a depth of over 500 metres is a humongous task, says Jasveen Jairath, founding convener of Hyderabad non-profit Save Our Urban Lakes (soul). Removing 22.6 billion litres of water requires round-the-clock pumping for up to 50 days, admits an official of the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (hmda). This translates into hundreds of crores of rupees (see ‘Impractical clean-up plan’on p21). Since the government is yet to make public the detailed project plan,no one knows where and how the lake water will be released.Conservationists say the water may be released into the Musi river, that flows 9 km south of the lake.In that case,the murky water of Hussainsagar will further pollute the Musi, the water of which is not fit for bathing, say soul activists.
“We have emptied and refilled small ponds in Kolkata to restore the health of the water bodies,”says Mohit Roy,environmentalist and president of Kolkata-based non-profit Vasundhara.But using the method to restore the health of Hussainsagar seems impractical.Ecosystem of small ponds is simple while that of lakes is complex. Pumping out Hussainsagar requires a complex management of the biodiversity of the lake,Roy adds.
Cleaning up the lake through this crude method is infeasible for another reason: it involves dredging out the sludge that has remained deposited on the lake bed for over 450 years. soul estimates that the lake built by Ibrahim Quli Qutub Shah of Qutub Shahi dynasty for providing drinking water to the city could be holding 4.4 million cubic