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Home Cover Features Rejuvenating Ameenpur Lake!

Rejuvenating Ameenpur Lake!

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Rejuvenating Ameenpur Lake!

Wanna love nature, look no further, head to the picturesque Ameenpur Lake, to watch the flora and fauna and soak in the beauty of the resident and migratory birds. This Lake, which has been declared a Biodiversity Heritage Site, is all thanks to the efforts of Tejdeep Kaur Menon, IPS, Director General, Telangana Special Protection Force, and her team.

Saving water bodies is the order of the day as day by day water is becoming a scarce commodity and at many places lakes are being encroached upon. Thanks to the untiring efforts of one woman and her staff, the Government of Telangana declared the Ameenpur Lake, Sangareddy District as a ‘Biodiversity Heritage Site’ under the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 vide G.O.Ms.No.70, dated 15th November, 2016.

“It is the first such water body declared as a Biodiversity Heritage Site in the country and that too in an urban environment,” said Tejdeep Kaur Menon, IPS, Director General, Telangana Special Protection Force (TSPF). The TS Biodiversity Board has constituted the Biodiversity Heritage Site Management Committee making her the Convener of the panel. Sharing the preservation of Ameenpur Lake, Tejdeep Kaur Menon said that the Telangana State Special Protection Force had adopted the Ameenpur Lake system on August 7, 2015, from the Collector, Medak to maintain the eco-system in its neighbourhood.

Rejuvenating Ameenpur Lake!

The Ameenpur Lake consists to an extent of 93.15 acres and five small lakes Kummari Kunta (11.28 acres), Kotha Kunta (7.39 acres), Setty Kunta (17.18 acres), Bandam Kunta (7.38 acres) and Mallanna Kunta (39.18 acres). The gutsy lady and her team have spent nealy two years to redefine the Lake.  “The Telangana State Special Protection Force with about 150 volunteers joined hands with two youth groups, Hyderabad Birding Pals and Phulkari, the ladies wing of the Punjabi Sabha organised a clean-up campaign at Ameenpur Lake, two-years ago,” recalled Tejdeep Kaur.

The Campaign was supported by the GHMC, Collector and District Magistrate, Medak, District Police, Medak and the Gram Panchayat, Ameenpur. The Ameenpur Lake is abutting the SPF Training Academy located in Ameenpur, Medak.

“The TSPF also adopted Ameenpur village under the Grama Jyothi programme so as to oversee the development of the village by taking appropriate measures in the key sectors of environment, health, education, water, sanitation, social security and natural resource management tasks that are defined in the programme and for which it has created a waste disposal system. It has voluntarily taken up clean up campaigns to bring awareness on the need for conservation of the ecological system,” she said.

The TSPF with the help of residents initiated a garbage disposal system in cooperation with the Sangareddy District authorities. “The TSPF employees volunteered and took up more than 100 clean-up drives to bring awareness among the public on the need for conservation of the ecological system,” she said.

The police official further stated that at the same time, the TSSPF had also taken up protection of the lake with its staff stationed at the TSSPF Training Academy patrolling the perimeter of the lake and the lake bed to prevent any blatant violation of conservation measures and other activity that disturbed the birds that flocked to the lake.

Rejuvenating Ameenpur Lake!

Speaking on the importance of the Lake, Tejdeep Kaur said that the Lake was home to many migratory and resident birds. “There is a huge list of Flora and Fauna that is found in and around the lake,” she said. The senior cop said that tremendous Biodiversity was available at Ameenpur Lake with a variety of herbs, shrubs, creepers, medicinal flora, trees, animals, reptiles, birds, insects, microbes etc.

The DGP pointed out that there are around 222 species of birds (migratory and residents), 250 plant species (including rare and medicinal), 9 fish species, 26 aquatic beetles, 41 butterfly species, 33 species of invertebrates, 12 amphibian species, 33 reptiles species, 9 species of wild animals and millet diversity is available in the area.

“The Ameenpur Lake is one of the few water bodies left in the State of Telangana. They are the most sought free haunt of bird watchers as a variety of avian species, with 222 species with both resident and migrant birds.  Most of the nesting sites for the birds and reptiles are found at TS SPF Training Academy,” she said proudly. She stated that apart from the avi-fauna, the lake is surrounded by wonderful rock formations, and also, there are reports of three caves in a granite rock cropping on the shores of the lake.  “Unlike sandstone and limestone caves, these caves do not have any stalagmites and stalactites but are dark and cool even during summer,” Tejdeep Kaur said.

At the beginning of this year, the Telangana State Special Protection Force, in association with the Andhra Bank, Collector, Sangareddy District, Hyderabad Birding Pals (HBP) and Friends of Flora and Fauna Society (FoFF) organized the Youth for Manohara Ameenpur campaign at Ameenpur village.

“The Youth for Manohara Ameenpur campaign is part of the joint initiative of the Telangana State Special Protection Force, Hyderabad Birding Pals (HBP) and Friends of Flora and Fauna Society (FOFF) in raising the level of consciousness and involving youth, particularly school and college goers, in the efforts to rejuvenate the Ameenpur lake system,” Tejdeep Kaur said. She said that this was done to make them appreciate Nature and by making those living in the neighbourhood of the lake aware of the need to protect it and take up Lake conservation measures.

Rejuvenating Ameenpur Lake!

Tejdeep Kaur said that during the clean-up campaign in June 2015, they observed a drastic reduction in the avi-fauna in the lake and after thorough analysis they felt that it was due to some activities that were threatening the Lake and its biodiversity. “The activities included Fishing and marketing, land encroachment, fencing, construction of buildings and colonies, construction in FLT area including of construction of religious structures, bore-well tapping, driving of water tankers, tractors and other heavy vehicles, trespassing by locals, parking of vehicles, throwing stones at the birds to name a few,” she said.

The senior police official said that immersion of idols during Ganesh Chaturthi, washing of vehicles, letting sewerage from the surrounding colonies into the lakes, littering of plastic, glass, thermacol, aluminum cans, fishing nets and garbage dumping and burning were posing a threat not only to the lakes, but to the entire bio-diversity abutting the lake, which provided a haven to most of the birds and reptiles. Tejdeep said that emergence of factories, housing colonies and other encroachments, including mines, in the lake conservancy zone has posed environmental threats in the area around the lake. “There are several issues like the unauthorized occupation of the lake bed where layouts have sprung up, the flow of domestic wastage and industrial effluents besides the killing of birds as game or for exotic meat of which there is evidence in the lake environs that have to be addressed,” she stated.

After sustained efforts to protect the Lake, Telangana State Pollution Control Board came forward to sample and test waters after it was discovered pollutants from nearby chemical and beverage industries besides sewage from upstream colonies had already percolated into the lake. “While some discharged effluents and residential colonies let out their sewage others were drawing water from the lake illegally for processing and use.  The Pollution Control Board is now working on putting up a sewage treatment plant with funds provided by the industries in the vicinity of the lake,” Tejdeep said. Under the able leadership of Tejdeep Kaur, the TSPF planned and executed a Vanamahotsav – a massive tree planting festival in which with the support of the Sarpanch dug pits and placed 4,000 saplings in the open areas of the lake bed and around the lake.  “We planted bird nesting and feeding trees.

Rejuvenating Ameenpur Lake!

As the lake has served as an irrigation tank in the past, the State Irrigation and Mines Minister T. Harish Rao was invited to flag off the Vanamahotsav,” she said.  The TSPF Chief stated that her Force had consulted and coordinated its effort with several Departments and other entities to protect the lake so that the species that flock to the lake come there in larger numbers. Andhra Bank has conducted health camps in eye and dental, for students of government schools, in Ameenpur mandal and adjacent areas as part of CSR. Apart from this, the TSSPF and Round Table India organised a camp for elders and children of Ameenpur. Painting, essay writing, quiz and singing competitions for school children on Nature related themes as part of the programme.

Tejdeep summed up saying that the Ameenpur example shows that there are several challenges. “The most vital are Commission Sewage Treatment Plants, to make the water drinkable; Create a permanent and lasting waste disposal system; Firm up the Full Tank Level; Create a habitat for the nesting and breeding of the birds; Set up watch towers from where school goers as well as adults can sight the birds; and, Open a Biodiversity Museum,” she explained.

Tejdeep Kaur conferred Earth Hero Award

The Sanctuary Asia declared Tejdeep Kaur Menon, IPS, Director General, TS SPF and the Telangana State Special Protection Force (TSSPF) as ‘Earth Hero’ and presented its coveted The Sanctuary Wildlife Awards - Wind Under The Wings Award, in Mumbai in December 2016. The award is given for distinguished work in spearheading exceptional initiatives to clean, rejuvenate and protect urban water bodies.

Rejuvenating Ameenpur Lake!

Villagers sensitized against idol immersion

During the Ganesh immersion, all efforts are made to sensitise not to immerse in the tank and a small mini tank bund is created for this purpose. “During the Ganesh Chaturthi and Dussera Festival as soon as the idols are immersed they are removed by the volunteers of the Force,” Tejdeep Kaur said.

She said that meetings were held with the villagers and leaders sensitising them to prevent polluting the waters of the lake. “Pamphlets are distributed to all colonies, houses and apartments abutting the lake, and propaganda is carried out with the local police. A 24-hour vigil is kept around the lake and immersion is prevented,” she said. Tejdeep further said that the other activities are prevention of mining and sand quartz in the area involving Director of Mines staff and with local police.

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