Thursday, 13 Apr, 1.23 am

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Hyderabad: In her, lakes find a vociferous champion

Hyderabad: She wears many hats, but her ecological activist one seems dearest to her. For the last few years, Ms Lubna Sarawath has been a tireless crusader for the lakes of Greater Hyderabad and beyond. She's battled encroachment and land-grabbing cases in the High Court and National Green Tribunal, and is keen to do more.

The young post-graduate in Islamic Economics & Institutional Political Economy blames the government and calls them the "biggest polluters of water bodies".

Though Ms Sarawath has been in the field since 2013, her name grabbed attention when she filed a complaint with the National Green Tribunal against the State Government for draining out Hussain-sagar water in the name of sluices repair.

Speaking to this newspaper, Ms Sarawath said, "Soon after I completed my post-graduation in economics, I began visiting lakes as I used to like that. It was a hobby, but I began to understand how negligence of water bodies can affect the economy. I applied for a membership in city-based non-profit Save Our Urban Lakes (SOUL) and joined them in 2013. So far, I have visited numerous lakes within the city and on the outskirts and made countless representations of the ground reality to the concerned department. My present role is to look into lake encroachment, neglect complaints, visit the site and help complainants approach the concerned authorities."

She complains that though the state makes "tall claims on Mission Bhagiratha", they don't have a responsible body to protect urban lakes. "The GHMC and HMDA's lake protection committee is toothless. I request the government to list all the lakes, dig out maps to identify full tank levels and buffer zones, and accordingly act on encroachers".

Ms Sarawath, who contested for the Hyderabad Lok Sabha constituency in 2014 from Aam Aadmi party, is presently fighting water body encroachment cases regarding Kapra lake, Hussain-sagar and Banjara lake. She quit AAP in March 2015 and then joined Swaraj Abhiyan.

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