At a time when the city has been battered by a flood and there is a debate about construction activity near water bodies, a recreational park to mark 100 years of completion of the Osmansagar Reservoir is being built on the right side of the dam. “The park will be spread over 18 acres and provide various recreational facilities. We are only executing it,” said an official at the makeshift office on the site.
This reporter was stopped from photographing the ongoing work as pneumatic drills, earthmovers and trailer-tractor have been deployed for creating the facilities. Access to the park was blocked during the COVID-19 lockdown and work began after a few months. “The work has been pending for two years,” said a Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority official who refused to go on record. The Osmansagar reservoir was completed in 1920 and was built as a flood protection for Hyderabad as well as a source of drinking water to the growing city.
The small park and the bund were one of the favoured sunset points in Hyderabad. “There was always a lot of crowd because we invariably went on a Sunday. Lots of water in the lake. I remember the route to Gandipet very clearly, though — it used to be charming with old trees on both sides and bougainvilleas of many colours along the way. Just some farm houses, no big buildings,” reminisces Sadhana Ramchander an editor and nature lover about visits to the park.
The survey map dated December 2019 shows that the park being developed falls within the Full Tank Level of the lake. The G.O.Ms.No. 111 prohibits construction within the FTL limits. The GO has a vast overarching clause and it prohibits: “Various developments within 10 km radius of Himayatsagar and Osmansagar lake areas which are main sources of drinking water supply as per the recommendation of the Expert Committee constituted by Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board to suggest ways and means to monitor the quality of water in these reservoirs.”
Ironically, during a Lake Protection Committee meeting of HMDA in September 2019, the issue about protection for the two lakes was noted. “The Chairman, LPC has instructed the District Collector, Ranga Reddy District to list out all the construction activities taken in the conservation zone in catchment limits of Osmansagar and Himayatsagar as per G.O.Ms.No. 111 and to verify the legality of permissions.”
Emails and messages to clarify on the park status to Principal Secretary Arvind Kumar went unanswered.