"Why Don't You Lead By Example and Remove It?" Karnataka HC Asks Pollution Board On Allegation Of Encroachment

"Why Don

Karnataka State Pollution Control Board has built its office by encroaching over the Sanigoruvahallu lake, this fact is mentioned in a preliminary report submitted to the Karnataka High Court, on Friday, by NEERI.

A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice S R Krishna Kumar observed "Why don't you (KSPCB), lead with an example and remove encroachment." Advocate Gururaj Joshi, appearing for the authority sought time to seek instructions. NEERI was appointed by the state government after it has been found that 19 lakes in the city have been encroached upon by private and public authorities. It has been asked to study and recommend steps on rejuvenation of lakes in the city.

The report states that out of 19 disused lakes inspected, it is found that Anche Ramana Kere in Gangaonda Halli and Belakahalli lake in Bommanahalli Zone are completely encroached and only 14 guntas and 36 guntas land is available. The available land may be developed as flowered tree parks.

A private institution with an area of 13 acres has been constructed in an area of 20 acres over Koena Aghrahara Lake. The bench directed Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to disclose the name of the institution and whether it has been lawfully built. The court also restrained authorities from carrying out islands in lakes and for doing so prior permission of the court will be needed.

The bench while a public interest litigation filed by Citizen Action Group, said the state and BBMP will have to come out with measures to restore the disappearing lakes. If it was not possible to restore these lakes, then it will have to create artificial lakes to compensate for the damage caused to the environment.

The NEERI report also says that only two lakes have water from seasonal rains--arehalli and Thavarakere. The water in these lakes can be sustained by adopting developmental activities and rain water is the main source of water for the two lakes. For other lakes a detailed suggestion/recommendation will be given in draft report to be submitted to BBMP.

In June, the bench had observed that "Prima facie we find there has been a complete failure on the part of the state government and its authorities to protect the lakes/tanks and other water bodies in the city of Bengaluru. Allowing disappearance 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)."

As per, list submitted 19 lakes had lost the characteristics of lakes and were being utilised as bus stations, stadiums, office of Pollution Control Board, revenue quarters, KHB colony and BDA layouts. According to corporation there are 210 lakes in Bengaluru city. The court has now posted the matter for further hearing on November 27.

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