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GHMC clean-up initiative to revive Katora Houz

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The Hindu        18.05.2017 

GHMC clean-up initiative to revive Katora Houz

For clean Hyderabad:Workers removing water hyacinth from Katora Houz inside Golconda Fort, in the city on Wednesday.K.V.S. GiriK.V.S. GIRI  

The 450-year-old royal swimming pool has been turned into sewerage tank

Katora Houz, the 450-year-old royal swimming pool inside the Golconda Fort, which had become an eyesore, is being cleaned up by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC). Tourists and visitors to the fort were put off by the foul odour and the water hyacinth infestation which had completely covered the centuries-old man-made lake.

On Wednesday afternoon, workers drafted by a contractor were busy collecting the water hyacinth using an electrical rake which pulls in the weed to one side. “We have carried out a bathymetric study of the four-acre lake. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) asked us not to use heavy equipment and hence we are using this electrical rake. It will take us about 10 to 12 days to clean up the vegetation inside this lake which has a rock and limestone flooring,” said G. Padma of Padma Clean Environs, which is carrying out the clean-up work.

Diverting sewerage

The lake, which is networked with medieval-era underground clay pipelines and used to have a functioning fountain in the middle, has been transformed into a sewerage tank by the water board officials and local residents. Remnants of the 609mm iron pipes dumping sewerage into the lake can be still seen in multiple places within the lake. “We are looking into the issue of sewerage being let out into the lake. We are thinking of a solution to divert the sewerage of the surrounding areas to the main line,” said a GHMC official. The lake clean-up is part of the GHMC’s Urban Malaria Scheme.

The bathymetric mapping (the water body’s structure is revealed using an ultrasonic device) revealed the aquatic life of the lake as well as the structure of the lake. “For a few yards from the gateway, it is a flat ground. The deeper portion of the lake is knee-deep water. We are using this specially created equipment which does not involve heavy machinery,” said Ms. Padma pointing to a plough-like device rigged to a wire drawn from one shore of the lake.

“We used to play in the lake. The water used to be clean as only rain water used to collect here. The lake became bad about two decades ago and its state has been deteriorating. Earlier, there were agricultural fields behind the lake and the water was used for watering the fields. Now it is a residential area. The population in the fort area also has increased and that’s why the lake is in such a bad state,” said S. Nizamuddin, a 71-year-old resident who lives beside the lake.