An impromptu weekend plan landed me in Wonderla Amusement Park in Hyderabad. My fear of heights made me go only on those rides that seemed slower and lower. These happened to be the water rides, as they were my safest bet. Even if all the safety belts and harnesses of the ride failed, I would just end up falling in the water, with all my bones and skull intact. Nevertheless, I enjoyed myself.
At that point, I never questioned how this park was procuring water for all its rides. Nor did I consider the possibility of water being extracted and sold to the park, depriving someone, somewhere of their access to groundwater.
A research for the project, ‘Ensuring Water Security in Hyderabad Municipal Area: A Study of Hydrological Settings and Informal Institutional Dynamics’ (http://saciwaters.org/wsphyd/), landed me in Adibatla, one of our study villages lying on the south-eastern side of Hyderabad.
This village is fairly peri-urban in its characteristics with the Outer Ring Road running along its boundary. Around 25,000 acres of land in this village had been acquired for two SEZs (Special Economic Zones)–Tata Consultancy Services and Tata Advanced Systems Limited. My colleague had also informed me of some amusement park that had come up near the village recently. While taking a transect walk around the village, I spotted it, and to my surprise, it was the same one I had visited. Enormous and colourful rides, reaching high up, enhancing an otherwise dull view of the skyline.
Adibatla is the village from where this park buys its water. Tanker owners have been supplying water in gallons to the park, especially during the weekend when the park has the most number of visitors. The source of all this water is groundwater. Adibatla has suffered considerable groundwater depletion due to the presence of the Tata SEZs in it.
On the southwestern side of the city lies HITEC City, the IT hub of Hyderabad. It not just has most of Hyderabad’s corporate offices but also has residential areas for people who work there. This area also has Inorbit Mall, one of the bigger malls in Hyderabad. Apart from these, there are many entertainment and recreational hotspots for the youth such as cafes, pubs, restaurants, gaming arenas and theatres.
One of my friends, who works and lives there, invited me for her housing society’s events. They had games, food and their biggest attraction was the artificial ‘rain dance’. This artificial rain dance went on for a longer time than an actual spell of rain in Hyderabad. This time, I wondered about the source of all this water. In a few weeks, I’d found my answer.
Not far from here lies Kokapet, another study village of the project. This is where most of the water for HITEC City and its surrounding areas comes from. Water tankers move from Kokapet to many commercial and residential areas, even the one I was invited to. To sustain these diverse activities, groundwater is being extracted rampantly and transported from this village. The village, on the other hand, is bearing the harsh consequences of a falling water table.
Borewells are drying up quickly. Even the villagers have to buy water through tankers to sustain their daily activities. Their only lake has been dry for months. And the rain they receive isn’t worth dancing to.
[The article was first published on India Water Portal and has been republished here with permission. The original article can be viewed here. It is one from a series of blogs written by the researchers of SaciWATERs after their work on a two-and-a-half-year-long project and has been written with inputs from other researchers — Samir Bhattacharya, Sumit Vij, Poulomi Banerjee, and Sai Kiran]