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

Down to Earth - - CONSERVATION - SUSH­MITA SEN­GUPTA |

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

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