Hyderabad: Contamination found in vegetables grown near the Musi River has reached alarming levels. Leafy vegetables like spinach, mint, and coriander grown on the banks of Musi from Puranapool to Uppal and beyond are sold in the city markets.
A majority of the leafy vegetables consumed in the city are grown on these banks. Much of the milk consumed by residents also comes from buffaloes that feed on fodder grown near the riverbed. More than 500 families depend on growing and selling leafy vegetables and the beautification of the Musi poses a threat to their livelihood.
“We sell vegetables we grow here at Madannapet Mandi or Mir Alam Mandi,” said V. Sudhamshu Kumar, Bhagyanagar Kisan Sangh Secretary. He also owns land under the Chaderghat Bridge adjacent to Musi River. He has around 60,000 banana trees in the surroundings. He also grows leafy vegetables, including spinach, curry leaves, mint, coriander, and drumsticks. “People come and buy banana trees, and we sell them for Rs 400 to Rs 500,” he said. “After all the labour charges, a total of Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 is left per month to run the family,” he added.
The majority of the farmers belong to the Kacchi community. There are about 400 to 500 farmers growing vegetables in the surrounding areas of Musi from Puranapool to Uppal and beyond, he said. About 300 of them are members of the Bhagyanagar Kisan Sangh, he said. They supply more than 50 per cent of leafy vegetables consumed by the city. The rest comes from the surrounding villages, he added.
Many industries and hospitals, including the Osmania Hospital at Afzal Gunj, dispose their waste directly into Musi River, said environmentalist Thakur Rajkumar Singh. He said that the hospital should use Sewerage Treatment Plants (STPs) and the help of facilitators to dispose of their bio-waste into Musi River.
Earlier, the vegetation in the surroundings of Musi used to be up to Uppal, but now it has spread all the way to Edulabad, said another environmentalist Subba Rao. He said that contamination of food was a major problem that many people in the city did not yet realize. Contaminated vegetables may lead to many problems related to liver, kidneys and other organs, he added. The state government has plans for the beautification of Musi River.
The Musi Riverfront Development Corporation has been approved for raising about `1,500 crores for river cleaning, bank stabilization and building STPs. However, the farmers who grow vegetation have asked for compensation as their livelihoods are dependent on the lands surrounding Musi River.