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Mother to thousands of villagers, aggressive construction turns this lake into dirty pool

By Sudhansu R Das* 
It was like a sparkling gem in a paradise.  Surrounded by grapevines, mango orchards, paddy fields and forest, the natural Gundla Cheruvu, also known as Gundlapochampally lake, was like a mother to thousands of villagers. For decades the lake has given people water for living and for cultivating crops; it has kept the ground water healthy and the atmosphere cool.   
The lake had let the crop diversity and kept the moisture of the soil intact for the growth of green fodder for cows, goats, sheep and buffalos. Milk supply to Hyderabad was once a thriving business which had given employment to hundreds of villagers due to the existence of the healthy water bodies. 
The lake and its surrounding was the home to thousands of bird species and animals; many migratory birds used to visit the lake during winter season.  The lake was the source of life, livelihood and the source of happiness for the local people. 
Aggressive construction activity on the lake bed has shrunk the lake to a dirty pool. Many local people have purchased land on lake bed without knowing that they are harming their own life and the future of their children.  They are creating a crisis which cannot be tackled so easily. Sewage from the nearby newly developed residential area pours into the lake; garbage, construction material and plastic have filled the lake. 
The fishermen are no longer seen and the fish have almost disappeared.  Plots for housing on the lake bed are sold.  The Gundlapochampally lake is dying an untimely death.  How to save the lake is the biggest challenge before the state leaders, educated people and the new generation.
The destruction of Gundla Cheruvu has caused acute water shortage; it has made the ground water level plummet. As the water is heavily polluted,  it adversely affects the groundwater which was used for drinking purposes by the villagers. 
People are compelled to spend money for buying Godavari water and bottled water which is an additional burden on them. As the majority of the villagers do not have a regular income to buy bottled water they continue to drink the bore well water; it adversely affects their health. 
Today, well to do families who have migrated to Gundlapochampally for a better living spend huge amounts to buy Godavari water; many of the residents do not use Godavari water and prefer to use bottled water for drinking. Apartments and housing complexes have been sold like hot cakes on the lakeside as buyers wanted a lake view; today the lake view has become a nightmare for them.
Eight years back, Gundlapochampally was a water rich area with seven vibrant water bodies as per the revenue record.  The way the water bodies are being destroyed now, it seems after two years from now no water body will survive in this area. It will be an economic suicide which will give sufferings to the residents of this area.  The looming water crisis will increase the cost of living and adversely affect people’s health and micro economic activities.
Gundlapochampally village was one of the main suppliers of milk to Secunderabad area. Today the majority of the villagers have sold their animals due lack of green fodder and the high cost of keeping the animals. Labor is not available for maintaining the animals; high cost of animal feed, medicines and lack of grazing land add to the problem.  The soil has lost the moisture due to drying up of lakes; green fodder has become scarce due to concretization of the ground area. It is a crisis situation for dairy farmers who should get green fodder, medical facilities and animal feed at a subsidized rate. 
Scores of dairy farmers have lost their livelihood as they find it difficult to maintain the animals amid concrete jungle which has swallowed the grazing land and water bodies. Gundlapochampally lake once helped the growth of the animal husbandry sector.  Today the soil has lost its moisture; the green fodder for the milch animals is not easily available.  Its adverse impact on economy and social life due to the destruction of the Gundla Cheruvu and other lakes is clearly visible.
It is not known if political leaders of Telangana have tried to learn from the Bangaluru water crisis which has happened due to the wanton destruction of water bodies in the city. In the last ten years hundreds of small lakes in Hyderabad have been converted into concrete jungle which will create another Bengaluru in Hyderabad in a short time.  
Gundlapochampally village was one of the main suppliers of milk to Secunderabad area
The educational institutions have minted money but not taught the children the economic, social, religious and the environmental importance of water bodies. Had those institutions taught the children about the economic benefits of lakes, the children after becoming political leaders could have recognized the immense value of water and crop diversity of this region. 
Today more than 50% of people in the world do not get adequate food to eat as per the World Bank report. It is very essential for the local leaders, youth and conscious citizens to protect the new gold mines which are water and fertile agricultural land.  The fertile agricultural land and water bodies in Gundlapochampally area should be protected to boost the export of agricultural products and milk products. 
The agricultural land is of no use without lakes, water bodies and healthy ground water.   Children in schools should be taught how a water body helps the economy, health of people, environment and increases the happiness level of people. The political class, media people, intellectuals, the conscious citizens, judiciary and the villagers should recognize the gold mines which are enshrined in nature.   
Real estate growth will give wealth to a few individuals but the preservation of lakes, water bodies and fertile agricultural land will give income and employment to thousands of people on a sustainable basis amid a world which is getting hungry day by day due to lack of food.  It is essential for human beings to learn from animals who never eat beyond their need and seldom destroy nature.  
The lake, forest, crop diversity, grape gardens, peacocks, bird species and fertile agriculture land will convert Gundlapochampally municipal area into an economic powerhouse. Agriculture, tourism, fishery, horticulture, vegetable cultivation, animal husbandry and wildlife tourism will rain gold in this area if the government and the local people work to preserve the Gundlapochampally lake along with all the water bodies amid nature.  
It is high time to understand what economic growth means. Certainly economic growth is not acceptable if it destroys the means to human survival, increases the atmospheric temperature and the intensity of natural calamities. Human beings can live like humans and cannot be converted into robots only to survive amid plenty of consumer products.
---
*Freelance journalist

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