Photo: Lotus Pond filled with algae and weeds (PV Siva Kumar)
By: Vijayshree Kurumilla
It is that time of the year, when water tankers start criss crossing through the streets of Hyderabad, to cater to the demand arising out of water scarcity in the city. While seeing them, I cannot help thinking of all our lakes, on whose graves; the so called development of Hyderabad has taken place.
I remember when as a child, one of the few places, to which our father would take us, regularly, in the evenings, would be – Tank Bund. There we would stand, gazing, at its placid immensity and the waves, soothed all our worries, away. I can picture my father lost in thought, as he placed his hands on the rails and looked at it. I was frightened of looking down, into it, as it looked deep and seemed to be inviting me, to find out, what lies beneath.
In those days, many women or men, were perhaps lured by this same call of the waters and took the plunge, when their fears completely overtook them. Their bloated corpses would float in the waters of Hussain Sagar, as a permanent witness to their putting an end to their agonies, once for all, in its arms.
The lake opposite to the Taj Banjara hotel, used to be brimming with water and I could remember, in the early 1980’s, when we went to immerse our ganesha idol, in its waters, it looked so crystal clear. Durgam Cheruvu was still a ‘secret lake’, when I visited it, in the late 1990’s. I sat on the shores and had the sense of floating on its waters.
The Lotus Pond was astounding in its beauty, when all the lotus flowers would bloom and there were like zillions of fish in it. There was an amazing water supply system, in that pond and I was thrilled, looking at the skill, with which it was built.
Circa 2013, Hussain Sagar is a cesspool and the only feeling that I get, when I go there out of pure nostalgia, is to cover my nose with a handkerchief. I am sure nobody would even dare to think, of drowning themselves in its stinking and murky waters, excepting for a really desperate few.
The lake opposite the hotel has vanished, with continuous dumping of trash into it and now, it is ready for some real estate project to come up, on its grave. Durgam Cheruvu after it no longer remained hidden saw buildings, come up right, on its shores and now, it is struggling to survive. Lotus pond’s lotuses have wilted, the fishes have died, and now the only thing which will live long is Jagan’s Lotus Pond residence.
These are only a few of the lakes, of the many which dotted Hyderabad’s landscape and which I have mentioned, having known them closely and also, seen their destruction. What kind of people would destroy these lakes, to further their own interests of enriching themselves? If you complain that, there is no water in the city, who is to be, blamed for it? Who has converted lakes into buildings and who is responsible for what happens during the rainy season, when the roads become lakes?
One has to marvel at the engineering skill which went into making of the drainage system and the creation of so many lakes for this city, by the Nizam rulers. It stood the tests of time but sadly, could not withstand the onslaught, of the Seemandhra real estate businessmen. Can these people who keep shouting that they have developed Hyderabad, bring back these lakes, which they have killed with their greed? With what audacity do these people lay, a claim to this city? Looking at their claims, makes me feel that ours is like some kind of proverbial rich girl, poor boy, love story.
Hyderabad is like that rich girl, coveted by everyone, but had given its heart to Telangana, and we looked together at the lakes, trees and hills which covered it and lived a happy life, until the entry of the villain, the Seemandhra businessman. He imprisoned the rich girl, desiring only her riches and then stripping her of everything which had made her beautiful, covered her instead with these gaudy and flashy things called malls, multiplexes, high rises and made millions out of parading this, newly dressed Hyderabad.
But where does my Hyderabad’s heart belong? It longs for its poor love, to take her back from the man who has taken everything out of her, but her soul. I imagine Hyderabad is still searching for its freedom, from these pimps, to be reunited completely with someone who has loved her, for what she really was. I feel strangely, that we are all searching for the real Hyderabad too, in this concrete jungle, which it has been transformed into. We will be reunited, only with the formation of Telangana. The heart will then truly take its place, where it always belonged.
This is a city which has love as its foundation, but has been turned into a money spinner, by the Seemandhra ruling class. We all have a huge responsibility, to rid her of these greedy villains and restore her past glory, in a separate state of Telangana. In the memory of all those lakes, which have died a slow but painful death, we must find ways to rebuild them and also preserve the existing ones. They are not just our lifeline but our heartbeat too.
Not for nothing do we say, ‘Telangana ki dil ki dhadkan-Hyderabad’