Lake of Dreams

SIM­PLY HYDERABAD TALKS TO THE DI­REC­TOR GEN­ERAL OF TE­LAN­GANA STATE SPE­CIAL PRO­TEC­TION FORCE (TSSPF), TEJDEEP KAUR MENON, WHOSE EX­EM­PLARY WORK WITH THE CLEANUP DRIVE AT AMEENPUR LAKE RE­CENTLY WON HER THE PRES­TI­GIOUS WIND UN­DER THE WINGS AWARD.

India Today - - FEATURE - By Mona Ra­ma­vat

Q. What does win­ning the award mean to you?

This award means the earth to me since it is work done with pas­sion, be­yond pro­fes­sional call­ing and be­liev­ing all along that the big­gest award for me is my hap­pi­ness.

Q. What mo­ti­vated you to take up the clean­ing ini­tia­tive for Ameenpur lake?

I am very pas­sion­ate about na­ture. Over my many vis­its to the lake, I was sad­dened to see the dirt and pol­lu­tion—plas­tic bags, garbage and waste all around. Watch­ing the birds and spend­ing time amidst the beauty of na­ture here and such a vast body of wa­ter cry­ing out for help prompted me to sit up and take ac­tion. We started the clean-up ini­tia­tive early last year. Even­tu­ally, we were joined by a few other con­cerned cit­i­zens.

Q. How has the Ameenpur lake trans­formed?

Ameenpur is now the first wa­ter body ever to be de­clared a Bio­di­ver­sity Her­itage Site in the coun­try. It was deeply sat­is­fy­ing to be able to res­cue cor­morant birds, en­snared in ny­lon fish­ing nets at the lake dur­ing our cleanup Sun­days. Chil­dren from nearby gov­ern­ment schools now sit by the lakeshore and look at the birds, awestruck. Some even paint pic­tures of them. I am glad to have in­tro­duced them to the birds that visit the lake. Some of these birds, we are told, have re­turned to the lake af­ter decades. I have also watched many a check­ered keel­back snake gulp fish down at the wa­ter’s edge. It is an ex­tra­or­di­nary com­mu­nion with na­ture.

Q. How did the TSSPF re­act to your de­ci­sion to pro­tect the lake?

At first, they were hes­i­tant and un­able to un­der­stand the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of what we had set out to do. But they are a com­mit­ted lot and have been work­ing dili­gently through­out. Their ded­i­ca­tion has egged me on to adopt the re­serve for­est, Anan­ta­giri, about 90 km from Hyderabad and an­other lake, Fox Sa­gar, near Kom­pally in Hyderabad.

Q. What are your plans for the fu­ture in this di­rec­tion?

Our task is now to en­sure that it is not pol­luted and save it from death by get­ting the author­i­ties re­spon­si­ble to im­ple­ment all con­ser­va­tion mea­sures, to pre­vent en­croach­ment and pre­serve its ecol­ogy so that it goes back to be­ing what it once was—a safe haven for birds.It al­ready at­tracts bird pho­tog­ra­phers and na­ture en­thu­si­asts and we hope that in the fu­ture it can be­come a sus­tain­able tourism site as well.

‘Our task is now to en­sure that it is not pol­luted and save it from death’

Tejdeep Kaur Menon at Ameenpur lake

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