Two pylons for a suspension bridge, a cycling track, a walking track, garden, an entrance plaza and an immersion pond have shrunk the Durgam Cheruvu like never before. The middle of the lake now is a busy work site with workers scurrying about as massive cranes hoist steel beams into position for raising the pylons. “Much of the soil and debris will be removed from the lake bed on both sides,” said an official supervising the bridge which has portions of pre-stressed box girders as well as cable-stayed stretch.
It is the 2.2-km nine-metre walkway, embankment and garden that has robbed the city of 4.89 acres. More, if the area of the entrance plaza is also considered. In other words, about 39 million litres storage capacity of the lake has been lost due to the construction work. The water that can fill 15 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
“We are spending Rs. 13 crore for the work. This will be one seamless walkway and cycling track,” said Narsimhalu of Raheja Group that is carrying on the work under CSR. On Friday, at a workshop on Urban Flooding in Hyderabad, Greater Hyderabad Municipal Commissioner B. Janardhan Reddy blamed the development of Jalagam Vengal Rao Park on Road No 1 for the flooding in Panjagutta. The then huge Enugula Kunta was reduced to a boating pond. Soon, the Durgam Cheruvu has been subjected to a similar development. “A few days back when I was walking around the lake, one person came with a huge map and informed me about the plots that are available. ‘It is Rs. 30,000 per square yard now, within months it will be Rs. 1 lakh per yard,’ he told me. The aim of all this development is to free up the land. The wide walkway is a step in that direction,” says Lubna Sarwath of Save Our Urban Lakes. She cites a number of violations of rules for allowing all construction work to happen. Exactly 10 years ago, the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority’s Heritage Conservation Committee inspected Durgam Cheruvu on June 11, 2008; and recommended that 30 metres from the F.T.L. and another 20 metres be left as open space, so that there is in all 50 metres free space/buffer from F.T.L. That resolution is forgotten.
The effort to shrink the lake is not yet over. Just beside the newly laid entrance plaza, civic body officials are widening the road stretch by 30 feet. “The road widening is for 200 metres up to the old entrance of the lake,” says a supervisor executing the road work. “What will happen to the entrance plaza which touches the road before widening?”
“We don’t know. We cannot have the road wide at one place and narrow at another end. Can we?” asks the supervisor.
Two of the sewers that used to bring water to the lake have been diverted and the 5-million-litres-per-day STP pumps in water in a trickle. “Currently, the water is muddy due to rain otherwise only clean water is going into the lake,” informs Mr. Narsimhalu. What the dirty water does to the lake can be easily imagined. An unbearable stench.
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