‘It is the duty of MAUD Ministry to protect our precious water bodies’

By Express News Service

Water bodies including lakes, ponds, channels, wells are dynamic natural resources, impacting as well as being impacted, intricately inter-connected with all other natural systems and living beings. Hence, water bodies, our lifelines, are critical to right to life and dignity.

The Municipal Administration and Urban Development Department has lost its moral authority on water bodies as it is unable to defend itself in the affidavit submitted by the author in the National Green Tribunal, Chennai, that lakhs of tonnes of Secretariat debris was dumped in the Hussainsagar heritage lake. Moreover, the construction of the Secretariat is itself illegal as the 28-acre site cuts through the already compromised FTL of the Hussainsagar. 

It is beyond comprehension how the MAUD Ministry, which is a member of Telangana Water Land and Tree Act (WALTA) Authority, can abdicate its responsibility of lake safety and lake health to ‘developers’ ploughing natural resources. While the WALTA Act mandates the WALTA Authority at state, district and mandal levels, that are collectives of officials, elected representatives and citizens, as a participatory platform to safeguard water bodies, trees, air, land, the MAUD Minister and MAUD Special Chief Secretary have evaded the democratic process. The Water, Land and Trees Act (WALTA) enacted in 2002 has been endorsed by the Telangana government and Government Orders issued in January, 2016 have detailed guidelines about WALTA authorities at various jurisdictional levels to safeguard natural resources. 

How can ‘developers’ guard water bodies?

At a time when ‘developers’ small and big, have devoured lakes through constructions inside lakes, on buffer zones and also leeched the water bodies by constructions abutting them, the announcement of entrusting water bodies to ‘developers’ is nothing short of a blatant endorsement of annihilation of water bodies.

Why hasn’t the state filed a response in High Court till date on the Naya Qila talab case, wherein ramps and golf tees have been constructed inside the Naya Qila talab, inflow channels diverted, heritage bund blasted?

What is the response of the state to the High Court in the Naya Qila heritage case, wherein Naya Qila Talab, Shah Hatem Talab and Jamali Kunta which are all notified lakes and the national monument Naya Qila-Golconda (200 acres) have been handed over to the Golf Association for as cheap as Rs 1 per acre?

Is it not on record that the area of Naya Qila that was frequented by migratory birds was initially taken by the state government in the name of a bird sanctuary and then handed over for the golf course?

Citizens must act to protect Hyderabad from turning into a Delhi

Citizens should be wary of Hyderabad turning into a Delhi through deliberate manufacturing of land in lakes. ‘Developers’ are not more equal than any of the citizens. As a category of polluting industry, they cannot be entrusted with a sacred common resource.

It is only the government and designated WALTA authorities who hold the original memoirs and who are paid by tax money, who are bound by duty, with accountability that should take care of water bodies.

The MAUD Ministry has no authority whatsoever to take the step of entrusting lakes to ‘developers’ who have a track record as destroyers of water bodies.

The MAUD Ministry should resolve cases filed by the author and many concerned citizens in the Telangana High Court, NGT, New Delhi, NGT, Chennai, Telangana State Human Rights Commission, Telangana Lok Ayukta for restoration and conservation of various water bodies.

These pending cases at various judicial thresholds are a testimony to the state and private encroachments and pollution in the water bodies under the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation and Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority.

At cross purposes

The Water, Land and Trees Act (WALTA) enacted in 2002 has been endorsed by the Telangana government and GOs issued in January, 2016 have detailed guidelines about WALTA authorities to safeguard natural resources. 

Dr. Lubna Sarwath

Convenor, Samvidhan Kendra, Hyderabad


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