The Karnataka High court has set a deadline of 10 days, for the state government and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to appoint National Environmental Engineering Institute (NEERI), which has agreed to carry out an in-depth scientific study of lakes in the city and also recommend steps to revive the existing lakes and find disappeared ones.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Mohammad Nawaz gave the direction while hearing a PIL filed by Citizen Action Group, which has highlighted the issue of encroachment around lakes and storm water drains releasing water in them thus polluting it. It was informed to the court that the appointment is not yet done.
In June, the bench while directing the appointment of the expert agency had observed that "Prima facie we find there has been a complete failure on part of the state government and its authorities to protect the lakes/tanks and other water bodies in the city of Bengaluru. Allowing disappearing of lakes is in violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. It is the primary responsibility of the state to maintain lakes/tanks it cannot shirk its responsibility by saying maintenance is entrusted with other authorities (BBMP)."
The bench also refused to lift the stay it had imposed earlier on carrying out any construction over the historic Begur lake. It said "Prima facie, permission granted to the BBMP by the authority constituted under the Karnataka Tank Conservation and Development Authority Act, 2014, was contrary to Section 12(2) of the Act which prohibits construction any structure on tank land."
The petitioners have pointed out that Begur lake is one of the most historic lakes in Bengaluru. However, it has been heavily contaminated due to industrial and domestic sewage in the recent years. An affidavit filed said that a major portion of the lake, particularly the area that is submerged at full flood levels, is now being converted into sites of various infrastructure projects intending to turn the lake into a tourism destination. An effort is being made to create three artificial islands involving concrete pilings and the building of bunds.
It is pointed out that one major island is being built for installation of a very large stone Shiva statue. It is pointed out that one more additional bund is being built through the lake bed. It is pointed out that massive sewage and storm water concretized drainage chutes are being built into and criss-crossing the lake bed.