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.
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