Hyderabad: Around 25 saplings of two species, which were planted as part of Haritha Haram at Neknampur Lake, were burnt down when there was a fire on Sunday night.
Locals suspect that some people, who drank near the lake that night, were the reason for the fire as bottles and cigarette ends have been found on the spot.
The lake does not have any fence protecting it from being misused and is open for all at all times. Madhulika Choudhary, an activist, said, “People drinking at night near the lake surroundings has become a nagging issue for us. We do tell them to vacate the premises, but it is of no use. And now because of their activities, we have lost valuable species of plants. To avoid this problem, we have been requesting the GHMC to appoint a watchman and ensure a gate.”
There was a similar mysterious fire in April and November too in 2018, at Neknampur Lake. The lakes in this season become vulnerable to fire accidents as people use bonfires to warm themselves, which end up burning dry plants and bushes. Cigarette ends also trigger a fire.
When contacted, Y. Shekar Reddy from the Lake Protection Committee, said that they were not aware of the incident and would go to the site and inspect the situation and take necessary action.
The lake is often used by morning walkers and has been regularly maintained by volunteers. However, according to the locals, the lake is also being misused by labourers and college students for open urination.
Haritha Haram is Telangana’s flagship programmes to rejuvenate degraded forests, protecting these forests from threats such as smuggling, encroachment, fire and grazing. It adopted intensive soil and moisture conservation measures based on a watershed approach.