Is water board flouting heritage laws with unauthorised work at Osman Sagar?

A source who informed siasat.com about the development said that construction work has been going on at the lake bed of the Osman Sagar from at least a few months.

Hyderabad: Is the water board carrying out unauthorised construction and violating heritage norms at the Osman Sagar or Gandipet lake? It has been learnt by siasat.com that the complete secrecy and current ban on entry into the lake premises is in fact due to construction work being taken up to build a new park at the century old water body. 

How this is being allowed by the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWSSB), is a matter of concern, given that it is common knowledge that the Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar are both heritage lakes. In spite of repeated attempts by this reporter, HMWSSB officials could not be reached, and those who responded refused to say anything on the issue.

A source who informed siasat.com about the development said that construction work has been going on at the lake bed of the Osman Sagar from at least a few months. As of now, HMWSSB officials have erected gates on the road leading to the lake, and security officials there refused to let his reporter enter the premises and take pictures. 

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As per the G.O.Ms. No.111 (government order), construction within the full tank level (FTL) of Osman Sagar or Gandipet lake is prohibited, and it in fact has a lot of clauses on that front. It clearly states that “developments within 10 km radius of Himayatsagar and Osmansagar lake areas” can’t be made. The park being constructed now, is reportedly being built in the Osman Sagar’s FTL. 

As of February 6, the water level in Osman Sagar stood at 3.029 thousand million cubic feet (TMC), as against its full tank level (TMC) of 3.900 TMC. On the same day last year the water level stood at 0.054 TMC.

“They are building a full blown park inside, without actually first stopping illegal constructions that have been taking place inside the 10 kilometre restricted zone of both the lakes. When the government itself if doing something unlawful, how can we expect the lakes to be saved?” asked a heritage activist from the city, who did not want to be named.  

The history

Both Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar were built to stop excess water from overflowing into the Musi River, after the 1908 devastating Musi river floods in Hyderabad which killed thousands of people. The 1908 floods took place during the time of Mahboob Ali Pasha, the Sixth Nizam of Hyderabad. 

It led to him commissioning the services of M. Visweswaraya, the legendary Indian engineer, who suggested that two dams be built keep the Musi River’s water outside the city. While Mahbub Ali Pasha died in 1911, his son and the last Nizam, Osman Ali Khan, sought to develop Hyderabad and make it flood-proof. He got both the lakes constructed under the aegis of the City Improvement Board, which was set-up in 1912. Both lakes were then developed over the next two decades.

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