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Saturday, June 16, 2001

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No more structures near Hussainsagar: HC

By Our Legal Correspondent

HYDERABAD, JUNE 15. A Division Bench of the A.P. High Court, comprising Chief Justice Mr. Satyabrata Sinha and Mr. Justice S.R. Nayak, on Friday declared that there shall be no further construction of permanent structures on and near the Hussainsagar lake and its catchment area.

The Bench made it clear that any other activity would have to be taken up only after a clearance from the A.P. Pollution Control Board. The Bench was disposing of a writ petition filed by `Hyderabad Bachao' and `Samata', voluntary organisations, represented by Capt. J. Rama Rao and Mr. Ravi Rebbapragada respectively. The petitioners filed the writ petition complaining that the Tourism Department was going ahead with about 18 projects in and around the already endangered lake.

The multi-storeyed structures and shopping plazas in the name of recreation would only spell doom for ecology, they complained and feared that due to reduction of water spread area the danger of flashfloods was looming large. The petitioners said due to the actions of the Government the lake water area had been reduced by 300 aces in the last 25 years. They contended that the very creation of Buddha Purnima Project Authority was in violation of 74th constitutional amendment Article 243-ZE which deals with urban planning. They also alleged that the Government was violating the zonal regulations of the Hyderabad Urban Development Authority.

The Government, in its defence, said the development around Hussainsagar was pursuant to various reports, including that of the internationally renowned consultants, Chales Correa. It also said recreational activity could not be termed a `commercial venture' and charged the petitioners with complaining about non- existing issues. It further said the petitioners have not proved that there was pollution in the lake.

The Bench, however, noted it was well established that the lake was already polluted. Relying upon various Supreme Court judgments, especially the latest one regarding the Osmansagar lake (wherein an oil extracting mill was directed to be removed from the catchment area), the Bench declared that the burden of proof to establish that there was no pollution is upon the polluter or the one who wanted to change the status quo.

The Bench stressed the need for preserving the lakes to prevent ecological disaster. Referring to the contention of the Government that a part of the water body had been renotified as a `recreational zone,' it expressed dissatisfaction in the manner it was done. The Bench concluded by making it clear that no further permanent structures should come up near the lake.

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