Noor Mohammed Kunta (NMK) is as polluted as ever

On the face of it the water body looks fresh and spotless. Even if you look hard, you wouldn’t find a trace of pinkish hue. But at the bottom of it Noor Mohammed Kunta (NMK) is as polluted as ever. Tonnes of hazardous metals are still settled in the lake bed, admit Pollution Control Board (PCB) officials.

The lake located in Rajendranagar shot into fame (rather notoriety) on account of years of dumping of industrial pollutants which lent it a bright pink colour. Though a sewerage treatment plant (STP) was inaugurated with much fanfare by former Chief Minister Y.S. Rajashekhar Reddy in July 2009, the lake continues to be a cause of concern.

Residents staying around it get polluted ground water. “Whenever we operate the borewell we get oily water,” says a resident who lives in the nearby Katedan Industrial Estate.

Though a good number of the 250 polluting units situated around NMK were shifted, 59 units continue to operate. They are mostly food processing units. The STP set up by the HMDA at a cost of Rs. 6.9 crore was to treat the domestic sewage and not the industrial effluents, it is said.

It was the dyes used by the textile units which led to the lake acquiring the ‘pink pond’ sobriquet. Studies conducted earlier showed that there was heavy concentration of heavy metals like lead, copper, chromium, zinc, iron, nickel, manganese.

The World Bank funded a Rs. 150-crore remediation project, which was taken up by the PCB as part of Capacity Building and Industrial Pollution Management Project (CBIPMP) to clean up NMK -- arguably one of the highly-polluted water bodies in the city.

According to Prasanna Kumar, social scientist, APPCB, the sediments in the lake bed contain high amounts of hazardous pollutants, besides considerable amount of heavy metal deposits. “Whenever it rains the pollutants find their way into the lake,” Mr. Kumar said.

Officials said the STP capacity would be upgraded to treat the industrial effluents too.

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