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Updated: November 1, 2010 17:04 IST

Tribute to a tree

APARNA MENON
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Homage: To the victims of the flood. Photo: G. Krishnaswamy
The Hindu Homage: To the victims of the flood. Photo: G. Krishnaswamy

Annually under the tamarind tree, people gather to pay homage to it for protecting their loved ones, more than 100 years ago.

In September 28, 1908, the Musi river overflowed due to heavy rain, with the water level rising 17 inches in a day.

To save their lives, around 150 people climbed up a huge tamarind tree in Afzal Park and the tree protected them from the fury of the river.

The Musi is a tributary of the Krishna River, which flows through the city of Hyderabad. During the floods of 1908, “thousands of people lost their lives, animals drowned and many heritage buildings too were destroyed,” says M. Vedakumar of the Forum for a Better Hyderabad.

Dams

The VII Nizam Mir Osman Ali Pasha built the Himayat Sagar and Osman Sagar dams within the next few years to prevent the river from flooding the city.

Hussain Sagar lake was built on a tributary of the Musi to meet the water and irrigation needs of the city.

Mr. Vedakumar says, “The city developed only after these floods. Many housing colonies were constructed and the city soon came up in a phased manner.”

Afzal Park is now a part of the Osmania Hospital premises. The historic tamarind tree stands close to the river front gate and can easily be identified by the board placed on its trunk, giving information about its importance in history.

Homage

Every year on September 28, a function is organised under the shade of the tree to pay homage to all those who lost their lives in the floods of 1908.

“The Forum for a better Hyderabad, is trying to get the citizens and the government to restore the Afzal Park to its original beautiful state. We are trying to get HUDA and the Corporation to give the Tamarind Tree, Heritage status and we are also trying to make people aware of the importance for a good drainage system,” continues Mr. Vedakumar. “The city is still facing problems when there is a lot of rain and there is a lot of flooding in various parts only because the drainage system is not good,” he said.

Save the tree

A few years ago, just before the 100th Anniversary of the Musi floods, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation planned to cut down the tree to widen the road. Many historians, well wishers and informed citizens raised their voices against it and have saved the tree for posterity.

We, the citizens of this city, owe a lot to this tamarind tree. We must protect it just like it protected our ancestors 102 years ago.

Keywords: Musi river

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