Hyderabad floods: Victims live in fear as Osman Sagar fills up

Hyderabad: With the water level of the Osman Sagar almost reaching its full capacity due to heavy rains, fear has once again gripped those whose homes had been flooded and wrecked last week. Thanks to torrential rains, all 13 gates of the Himayat Sagar had been lifted last, which led to houses getting destroyed after water from the Musi river entered and literally submerged their homes.

Photo: Nihad Amani

On Tuesday, personnel of the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water and Sewerage Board (HMWSSB) began asking people to leave their homes or secure themselves through public announcements. Last week too, residents in areas like Moosa Nagar on the Chaderghat bridge had been informed a few hours earlier before the Himayat Sagar’s gates were lifted after the lake reached its full capacity. 

Photo: Nihad Amani

“We have to see what to do if the water comes again. Where else will we go?,” asked Mohd. Imran, a resident of Moose Nagar, which is on the lower Chaderghat bridge, that connects to the Malakpet main road. Almost half, or more, of the residents in the area lost their belongings as water from the Musi river, which cuts across the Chaderghat bridge, swamped into their homes. 

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The situation has been bad ever since then, as intermittent rainfall only makes things worse for people living there, and not the river bed of the Music river. The Himayat Sagar and Osman Sagar dams were built in the 1920s and 1913, during the reign of Mir Osman Ali Khan, the last Nizam of the erstwhile State of Hyderabad. 

Photo: Nihad Amani

The two lakes had been built after the devastating 1908 Must river floods, when an estimated 15,000 people died due to floods caused by heavy rainfall. Last week, all 13 gates of the Himayat Sagar were lifted due to day-long heavy rains on 13 October, resulting in heavy inflows gushing into the river, which wreaked havoc on the homes of living on the riverbed areas. 

According to a press release from the HMWSSB on October 20, the water level in the Osman Sagar lake touched 1786 feet, as against its full tank level (FTL) 1790 fee. In case it rains heavily again, the water level is expected to touch its FTL. “Both lakes meet at Bapu Ghat. If the gates are opened, then the Musi river will also get cleaned. Releasing water will not cause floods now,” said a former HMWSSB official. 

Devastated by rains, residents of Moosa Nagar left on their own

Buying clothes may sound like an ordinary chore for most of us, but for many others, it is something they can do only after saving up money in bits and pieces for months. That is how life had been for flood victims, who belong to lower middle-class and below poverty line (BPL) families in Moosa Nagar near Chaderghat. 

Many, like at Dhobi Ghat nearby, used to live in simple  and small huts. They earn their livelihood through manual labour mostly. However, in just a whiff, their entire lives was shattered when the mighty Musi river came crashing into their homes, literally destroying them both physically and emotionally.

“We are experiencing nightmares due the floodwater and because we don’t have drinking water. Thanks to good samaritans we are getting food, but otherwise there is no drinking water from almost six days now,” said a resident, who did not want to be quoted. 

He added that no official from the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) visited the the area even till Wednesday. The flood water submerged roads and houses alike, and left vehicles floating. It has literally displaced people, who watched their homes getting damaged. 

“The rains also washed out several bikes, autos, cars, and household items.

Several of these areas are still not accessible for relief works due to muck and garbage which has flown into homes,” lamented another resident. He urged the government to provide them a two-bedroom government allowed homes, and also basic items such as clothes. “We have been living in the same clothes for almost six days now,” he added. 

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