The author sees the need for the conservation, maintenance and management of these ancient water bodies for the supply of water to cities. The author suggests that there is need to integrate traditional wisdom with modern water resource management.
Beginning with a macro picture on water stress and scarcity, the author comes down to a micro picture, with a valuation of the 170 lakes around Hyderabad through a table. The table indicates that the storage capacity of these lakes is 82,500 million litres. However there has been a fall in the water table.
Pointing to four factors that have lead to large scale extraction and utilisation of water - urbanization, industrialization, water intensive agriculture and modern lifestyle - the author says that more attention was paid to the supply side and not to wastewater generated. Charting the growth of Hyderabad as a modern city, the author points out that the city's growth had an adverse impact on lake catchments as these areas were used as dumping grounds for domestic waste, sewage and industrial effluents.
The author charts the course of the movement to save the lakes in and around Hyderabad. The movement began with a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in 1990. This lead to the Green Hyderabad Environment Project (GHEP) that was funded by the Government of Netherlands. The author indicates that the project was not very successful because there was a disproportionate emphasis on engineering and technology.
The paper ends with a demand that an Integrated Water Resources Management approach advocated by the Global Water Partnership be implemented. Further, the seven principles outlined in the World Lake Vision (WLV) should form the basis for a national level programme on the conservation and management of such water bodies.
This paper was presented at the National Seminar on Water and Culture organised by Kannada University and Sahayoga in 2007.
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