Forum moots lake protection committees

THE HINDU, [20 June, 2002]

HYDERABAD June 19. The Forum for a Better Hyderabad on Wednesday presented a series of recommendations for preserving and improving water bodies in the State and for reducing vehicular pollution, to the A.P. Pollution Control Board based on earlier public discussions organised by them on June 4.

The recommendations call for clear and visible physical demarcation of Full Tank Level boundary of all water bodies and creation of stakeholders bodies like ‘lake protection committees’ vested with powers to supervise and penalise encroachers and polluters.

Speaking at a joint press conference called by the Forum and the A.P. Pollution Control Board here, C. Ramchandraiah, Convenor of the Forum, said that it was ‘amazing’ the number of property claims on lakes and water bodies in the twin cities and called for quick and sincere action by the Government and Statutory bodies to save water bodies.

He demanded the transfer of control over water bodies to the Forest Department to be conserved under the Wild Life Protection Act as Protected Areas. He also called for amendments to the A.P. Urban Areas (Development) Act of 1975 to exclude lakes and rivers from the purview of Government so as to prevent their conversion to residential and commercial uses.

Mr. Ramchandraiah stressed the need to involve NGOs and community organisations, apart from political parties, the Green Cadet Corps, Government officials and local residents in the lake protection committees rather than privatise water bodies. This, he said, would create ‘commodification’ of water and lead to greater stress on water resources in future.

Tishya Chatterjee, Member Secretary, PCB said several measures suggested by the Forum had already been incorporated. He stressed on the imminent activation of the Water, Land and Trees Act recently passed by the Legislative Assembly and said it also envisages creation of local stakeholder bodies to look after the water bodies.

He said while the situation regarding water quality was grave in some lakes, there were still many of these where the quality was comparable to the cleanest Scandinavian lakes.

He informed that there are 6,500 lakes in the State and the PCB was in the process of testing their water quality.

Of the 129 lakes tested last year, only 20 were found to need protection. Of these Hussainsagar was the dirtiest. He said the PCB had proposed to the Metro Water Board to use depth aeration technology along with bio- catalyst to clean water in the lake and also reduce the green algae.

Mr. Chatterjee agreed with the recommendations made by the Forum and added that it was necessary to prioritise actions that need to be taken on the basis of existing resources and a proper study of prevailing conditions.