A Rs 500 cr es­crow ac­count and judge: The NGT plan to fix Bel­lan­dur lake

The Northlines - - NATION - Ben­galuru, Dec 07

The Na­tional Green Tri­bunal on Thurs­day fined the state of Kar­nataka Rs 50 crore and the Bruhat Ben­galuru Ma­hana­gara Pa­like, the city cor­po­ra­tion, tak­ing is­sue with the state’s “neg­li­gence” in pro­tect­ing the lakes of Ben­galuru.

The city’s lakes have hit news­pa­per head­lines over the past few years, first with Bel­lan­dur lake, which had caught fire and then with other lakes as well, all of which froth and foam when there is rain.

The NGT has also asked the gov­ern­ment to de­posit Rs 500 crore in an es­crow ac­count for the ex­e­cu­tion of an ac­tion plan on the re­ju­ve­na­tion of lakes. It has or­dered the set­ting up of a com­mit­tee headed by for­mer Supreme Court judge San­tosh Hegde, which has been tasked with over­see­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of its order. The com­mit­tee will also in­clude noted sci­en­tist TV Ra­machan­dra, who is a fac­ulty at the In­dian In­sti­tute of Sciences.

Of the fine that the BBMP has been di­rected to pay the Cen­tral Pol­lu­tion Con­trol Board, Rs 10 crore has to be trans­ferred to the Kar­nataka State Pol­lu­tion Con­trol Board for pro­vid­ing lo­gis­ti­cal sup­port to the Hegde com­mit­tee. Speak­ing about the order, Ma­hen­dra Jain, ad­di­tional chief sec­re­tary of the Ur­ban Devel­op­ment Depart­ment, said the order copy had not yet been re­ceived. “How­ever, we will hon­our the tri­bunal’s direc­tions,” he said.

“As re­gards the re­ju­ve­na­tion of the lakes, these are not things that can be rec­ti­fied overnight. We face legacy is­sues where drainage has been flow­ing into thes lakes for a very long time. We have set about in ad­dress­ing these is­sues,” Jain said. Mean­while, the Namma Ben­galuru Foun­da­tion, an NGO that has been im­pleaded in the case, said it wel­comed the “his­toric order” of the NGT. Suresh NR of the foun­da­tion said: “Our con­tention that there has been ap­a­thy has been up­held by the NGT. We have been cry­ing our­selves hoarse that the au­thor­i­ties must step in and ad­dress the is­sue im­me­di­ately, but to no avail,” he said. Suresh said the state gov­ern­ment had set up var­i­ous com­mit­tees, which had over the years de­tailed the var­i­ous kinds of il­le­gal­i­ties that had led to cur­rent sit­u­a­tion. “What ac­tion was taken on the three re­ports that were sub­mit­ted to the gov­ern­ment on the il­le­gal en­croach­ment of lake beds? In fact, last year the gov­ern­ment came up with this new con­cept of dead lakes,” he said.

How­ever, Suresh said, it was now time to join hands with the Hegde com­mit­tee and aid it in ad­dress­ing the is­sue.

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