As a Geoecologist, I was working on the  Hussain Sagar Lake and Catchment area improvement project (HCIP). The Hussain Sagar Lake is a more than 400 yrs old. A few Nalas or streams are joining the lake. As part of treatment, they were intercepted and diverted. Kukatpally Nala is a major Stream, covers a larger catchment area.

I was doing reconnaissance of the field for identification of spots for proposed bird watching towers. I went all along the shores of Sanjeevaiah Park, there was gravel, and at very few places the clayey mud was present. I could walk conveniently, except at very few spots, there was wetness. I could feel safer while walking on the shoreline. All the pollution especially floating materials washed onto this shore because of wind direction. There were few water birds found here and there.

I went to PV Narasimha Rao Ghat, there was no opening to reach the lake shoreline. I have requested the security and crossed the fence and reached the shore. This corner of the lake is a wetland with lots of vegetation and birds. I saw two people fishing with fishing rods, earthworms were used as bait. I walked all along the fence and reached a place with tall trees. I liked this place, as I could see many water birds. This place is ideal for installation of a birds watch tower. The tower can be well hidden in the trees without much disturbance to the birds. Another area I explored was behind Jal Vihar and between the eat street place, on the shores of Hussain Sagar Lake.

Next day, I returned that was on 10, July 2015, to the Kukutpally Nala area. Kukutpally Nala over the years carried polluted water and sediments from the catchment area covering residential and industrial zones like Jeedimetla and Balanagar. Recently interception and diversion drains were constructed to divert the polluted waters to Musi river. Still, due to excess flow of waters, it was not entirely diverted away yet. Over the years the sludge and silt deposited at the mouth of this Nala was not dredged.

After crossing the bridge across Kukutpally Nala, there is a small park. I went to the park asking the driver Mr. Raji Reddy to wait on the necklace road. There were very few people in this park – three young couples immersed in their own world and a lady Gardener busy cleaning the park. I went to the edge of the park, saw two people at a distance of about 800 meters on the shore of the lake collecting probably the plastic waste. I saw a good density of aquatic birds on the banks. Took some photographs using the camera at 30x zoom. I thought as it is dry I can walk across and reach those two people. My interest was to document the aquatic vegetation and birds. Due to the decision of the Municipality (GHMC) to empty part of the lake waters. The water in the lake has receded, exposing a large proportion of the shore. I could walk about half a kilometer distance Avoiding the wet places and along the vegetation. At one location, there were many plastic papers carried by the Nala; it appeared completely dry. The dry plastic sheets made the place look whitish. I started walking over them. It looked like dry alkaline soil area. I was completely immersed in the surroundings. Suddenly to my surprise my left leg up to my knee just pierced into the lake bed.  To lift myself back I stepped forward with my right foot. Both my legs are in the sludge now. I realized it is a mud trap, so I did not push my right foot. I bent down and leaned forward with the support of both my hands. With the distribution of weight on four points, I could remain still. Slowly I tried removing my left leg, I struggled but could not remove. The mud was like tar, dark black and sticky. It held my shoes. I waited for some time thinking what to do. For people in the park, it appeared that I was sitting, rather stuck. Even if I shout, my voice will not be heard. Also, there were very few people in the park.

There is a possibility that I might go deeper the more I struggle. I took out my mobile phone and called my driver, Mr. Raji Reddy. Told him that I am stuck in the mud, and asked him can he see me. Also requested him to come with a rope if possible so that I can get out. He said that there is no rope in the vehicle, but he will come to help me to get out. I waited for about 15 minutes; my position was such that, I was facing the lake. Suddenly from behind, I heard the driver’s voice calling me for help. He was behind me about 15 meters away; he was found with his two legs knee deep in the mud stuck.

I started laughing; I said already I am stuck, you know that, and you should have been cautious. One of us should come out first in any case. We don’t have any more options left, and we cannot spend more time for someone’s help. I struggled and by dividing my weight and force into the two hands and right feet, lifted my left leg up. By crawling slowly, I lifted my right leg also. Slowly reached a harder place. Now I helped him to come out by crawling and giving my hand. He said that his chappals are stuck. I asked him to abandon his chappals and take out his feet out. He could also manage to get out. We both were covered almost up to the waist in pitch dark color dark sludge. This sludge was like tar, with the smell of sulfur very sticky and repulsive.

We took some plastic sheets to wipe out some of the mud. Reached the park in an awkward situation and got into the vehicle. Reached our office, washed. I requested the driver to go my home and get me the clothes to change. Our driver was allergic to this highly polluted mud. He started scratching his feet and legs continuously whole night. He went for a checkup with the doctor the next day and got treatment. His problem continued for three days.

Hussain Sagar lake was in the heart of Hyderabad city, myself getting trapped in it and being helpless, I can never forget those moments.  I could understand the issues of Hussain Sagar Lake its pollution and the degradation. Later when I shared this experience with Dr. J. P. Singh an educationist and a life-saving organization coordinator of the State, he said that in such situations even those who know swimming could die having trapped in the sludge.

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