Saturday, March 28, 2015

Kolleru WLS Area- Reduction from +5 to+3 Contours

Brief Background of Kolleru Wildlife Sanctuary (KWLS)

It was in the earlier term of Sri N. Chandrababu Naidu as Chief Minister of undivided AP State, realising the significance of invaluable Wetland Ecosystem of international importance, the Kolleru Lake was notified as “Kolleru Wild Life Sanctuary” (KWLS) for protection of Birds & other Wildlife in the area, by issuing G.O.MS No 120 of 04-10-1999.

The boundary of KWLS runs along the Contour +5MSL, covering an area of 30,855.20 hectares or 308.55 Sq. Km, spreading across 7 Mandals of West Godavari district and 2 Mandals of Krishna district of A P State, covering a total of 74 villages in both the districts.

Aqua Boom sounded Death –Knell of KWLS

Some of the rich enterprising farmers of the area, taking advantage of the Government inaction, converted their lands in KWLS to aquaculture and reaped rich harvests. The sudden riches of the aqua farmers, encouraged others with political clout, to invest in setting up fish tanks on large scale, leading to an Aquaculture Boom in utter disregard to KWLS Rules.

The encroachments of KWLS, continue to take place unchecked, even after AP High Court Order in July 2001, directing the authorities to ensure removal of encroachments of lake bed and to bring back Kolleru Lake to its pristine glory. The gravity of the situation could be judged from the fact that more than 25% of area covered by KWLS was under illegal encroachments.

Operation Restoration of Kolleru

The directive of Central Empowered Committee (CEC) of Supreme Court and the Farmers outcry about the floods damaging their crops in the upstream of Kolleru during 2005, had driven the State Administration to launch “Operation Restoration of Kolleru” for dismantling illegal commercial fish ponds in the Sanctuary Area. But, unfortunately this operation was short lived because of political pressure by the powerful Aquaculture lobby. Having succumbed to the pressure of the uncouth lobby, the then AP State Legislative Assembly in 2008 passed a resolution for reduction of the area of KWLS, by changing its boundary from +5 to +3 Contour, unmindful of its adverse socio-economic & ecological consequences.

Dr.Azeez Committee

MOEF, GOI constituted the Expert Committee, under Chairmanship of Dr.Azeez in April 2010, to study the proposal of A.P.Govt. for reduction of the area of KWLS from + 5 Contour to + 3 Contour. Dr. Aziz Committee Report clearly stated that the reduction of the area of KWLS is not a viable solution for various socioeconomic & ecological issues confronting the Lake Kolleru and It will lead to destruction of a very valuable ecologically important area for short sighted benefits.

22 nd Standing Committee Meeting NBWL

The Standing Committee of National Board for Wild Life, chaired by then Minister for Environment and Forests, GOI, in its 22 nd. Meeting held on 25-04-2011, accepted the recommendations of Dr. Azeez Committee Report in Toto. The Minister stated, as Chairperson of the Standing Committee would take forward the Report as appropriate, to the State Government of AP for its implementation. Also stated that formulation of appropriate R&R policy would need to be taken up by the State Govt. immediately. The R&R Policy, should include the amount required for compensation to the affected people on this count and budgeted & provided by the State Government.

Lack of Follow up Action by MOEF & AP State Govt.

Dr.Azeez Committee emphasized the urgent need for conducting re-survey of boundaries as of now, using advance GPS Technology and to be completed within a period of 18 months. But unfortunately nothing much seems to have happened so far in that direction, even though about 4 years have lapsed after accepting the recommendations of the Committee.
Because of shrinkage of the area covered by KWLS, the floods resulted by “Cyclone Nilam” of November 2012, in various drains–Budameru, Tammileru etc.- that empty into Kolleru, have caused the water levels to rise and cross the +8 Contour. This has resulted in flooding of several colonies along the banks of Budameru in Vijayawada City, for several days.

Hype of Present AP State Govt. for Development

It is unfortunate that same .N. Chandrababu Naidu, the architect of KWLS in 1999, is behind the Resolution passed by present AP State Legislative Assembly on 22-12-2014, seeking recommendation of the National Board for Wildlife for reduction of boundary of KWLS from +5 to +3 Contour.

It is ironical that AP State Govt. advocating development of newly formed State and the State Capital on the models of Japan and Singapore, is working overtime for destruction of Kolleru, one of Asia’s most ancient & largest fresh water lakes and invaluable Wetland ecosystem of international importance.

If the proposed reduction of KWLS boundary from +5 to +3 Contour, reducing its area by 25000 acres & leading to its destruction, is permitted, the prestigious Biodiversity Conventions, National Wetland Rules, Identifying the Kolleru as a Ramsar Site and as a National Wetland etc, will have no meaning.
In the light of the urgency & importance of the matter, AP State Government and the Govt. of India, be urged to implement the recommendations of Dr. Azeez Committee for protection of KWLS, and restore public confidence in the Rule of Environmental Law , which gets ignored in the name of Economic Development. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Stop Diversion of Kukatpally Nala into Musi River

Inflows of Kukatpally Nala Toxic
The G.O. 60 was issued by Telangana State Govt. for diversion of dry whether inflows of Kukatpally Nala to the downstream of Hussain Sagar Lake to prevent pollution to Lake from Kukutapally Nala. The dry weather inflows are reported to contain toxic heavy metals such as Cadmium, Chrome etc from untreated / under treated effluents being discharged by industrial units engaged in Galvanizing, Electroplating, Leather Tanning etc apart from Domestic Sewage. The other likely sources of chemical contaminants finding their way into Kukatpally Nala are from Hospitals, Clinical Laboratories, Chemical/Diagnostic Laboratories, etc. which invariably discharge / drain their untreated chemical residues into Drains & Sewers discharging into Nala.

Shifting Problem from Hussain Sagar to Musi River 
As the toxic effluents & untreated sewage from K- Nala to be diverted to the down stream of Hussain Sagar will ultimately find their way into Musi River, it is nothing but diluting Pollution and shifting the problem to Musi River. Diluting Pollution and Shifting it to elsewhere is no Solution to Pollution. 

 Musi Basin already Contaminated 

The toxic effluents from PETL, JETL and other sources being discharged for more than 3 decades, are getting diluted with sewage/water In CETPs / STPs / Drains, before finding their way into Musi River. But the total pollution load being discharged into Musi Basin does not come down. That means the toxic effluents continue to flow into Musi River and get accumulated in Musi Basin adversely affecting the soil, crops, ground water, livestock and endangering the lives of the people in and around, through the Food Cycle. 

EPTRI Report 

The State of Environment Report for Hyderabad published by EPTRI in 1996, estimated that about 350 MT of Total Dissolved Solids(TDS) load is being pumped into Musi River every day, along with untreated & under treated industrial effluents let out into Musi River. The other point is the residues of toxic Heavy Metals and POPs, which are not being tracked, are finding their way along with the effluents/sewage. The report also highlighted the toxicity present in the Grass, Vegetables, Milk etc. from Musi Basin 

CAG Report 

The CAG Report, which reviewed the activities relating to the control of water pollution during 1994-2000, was placed before the State Assembly on 31-3-2001. The report stated that ground water in areas along Musi River contained high levels of pollution and endangered public health. The water samples collected from down Stream of Musi River, are reported to have shown high levels of toxic heavy metals like, Lead, Chromium, Mercury and Arsenic in ground as well as surface waters. This is borne out by the fact of large scale fish-kills reported from time to time in the area. 

IPM Study 

The IPM Study regarding toxic and inorganic loads in Musi sediment is reported to have highlighted the levels of Mercury, Antimony, Arsenic, Lead etc in excess of permissible levels in the blood samples. The levels of Chromium, Cadmium, Lead, Arsenic etc in ground water are also reported to be high. 

Statutory Responsibilities of Govt. 

Taking into account the gravity of situation that already exists in Musi Basin, the Statutory Authorities and the Government cannot dis-associate themselves from discharging the duty in accordance with the provisions of The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. to see that pollution loads do not increase any further, leave alone reducing the existing pollution loads.

The protection and improvement of Human Environment is a major issue, which effects the well being of people and economic development. According to Article 48-A of The Constitution of India, the State shall endeavour to protect and improve the Environment. The Andhra Pradesh High Court has held that Article 48 A of the Constitution imposes an obligation on the Govt, including Courts to protect Environment(T. Cardamom Rao v The Special Officer MCH, AIR 1987 AP 171 ).

Article 51 A (g) of the Constitution imposes as one of the fundamental duties on every citizen, the duty to protect and improve the Natural Environment, including Forests, Lakes, Rivers and Wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures. 


In the light of the position explained above and the W.P19661 of 2002 in A P High Court, which is now before National Green Tribunal ( South Zone) as Application no.90 of 2013, Telangana State Govt be urged to drop the proposal for diversion of untreated/under-treated effluents from Kukatpally Nala or any other source into Musi River, in the larger public interest.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Shifting of Telangana State Govt Secretariat to Erragadda T.B & Chest Hospital Site

Destruction of Heritage Structure & Green Cover

The State Govt. of Telangana issued G.O No Rt No.61 dated 27-01-2015 for shifting T.B and Chest Hospital from Erragadda to the old T.B Sanatorium in Anantgiri Hills in Vikarabad. This proposal, besides causing inconvenience to the Public/Patients, Hospital Staff, Medical Post Graduate Students etc, leads to destruction of the In-Patient Block of the Chest Hospital, a notified Heritage Building. Also results in loosing valuable Lung Space, right in the middle of commercial hub - "Green Belt" in the campus, a notified Urban Forest Area. It is bound to add to already existing high levels of Air Pollution and prevailing high temperatures in "Concrete Jungle" of Hyderabad .

Sinister Move Behind Proposed Shifting

If the Press Reports are to be believed, the main reason behind the entire episode of Chest Hospital Site, appears to be proposed shifting of the State Secretariat to Erragadda Site, as the present premises has serious "Vaastu Dosham" and it does not seem to meet the present Chief Minister's astronomical numbers. While every person is entitled to have his beliefs in Vaastu, Horoscope, Numerology etc, the public property and funds can not be squandered for satisfying the personal beliefs, whims & fancies of the incumbent of any official position.

Heritage has become a Mockery

As per the Press Reports, when asked about how the Government could tamper with the Heritage Structures of the Chest Hospital, Hon'ble Chief Minister is reported to have said "There is no sense in having mindless, meaningless heritage structures. ------Land has more ancient heritage than any other heritage structure. Does that mean that we should not touch Land?"

In the case of Hyderabad Metro Rail alignment in front of State Legislative Assembly Building, the same Chief Minister insisted on changing the alignment of Metro Rail, keeping in view the importance of "Heritage" of the Assembly Building, even agreeing to bear the heavy additional cost involved. Now we hear of demolishing of "Ravindra Bharathi" building and emptying of Hussain Sagar lake.

City is already Breathing Less

The Hon'ble A.P. High Court in its landmark judgement on WRIT PETITIONS W.P. Nos.25835/96 and 35/97, observed that "The city is already breathing less than required breath and further depletions, by acts of the State, of the lung spaces of the city will make the breathing more difficult" (Pages 51 - 52).

It was also observed that "Whatever little scope was available to argue that the Government of the State represent the sovereign and retained thus its eminent domain in deciding in respect of the use of a public place one way or the other is taken away by the Constitution (Seventy-Fourth Amendment) Act, 1992 and Article 243W(a) therein read with the list in the Twelfth Schedule" (Page 49).


In the light of the position explained above, Telangana State Govt be urged to reconsider the proposal for relocating State Govt.Secretariat, if any, and shifting of Chest Hospital to Anantgiri Hills, Vikarabad. Let there be Transparency, Public Consultation and involvement of stake holders, the cardinal principles of Good Governance, in the decision making process.