Storm water drains encroachment in Bengaluru: HC seeks joint report from authorities

The Chief Commissioner of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) appeared before the High Court of Karnataka and submitted a 109-page compliance report with regard to the action taken to remove encroachments on storm water drains (SWDs) in the city.

The Secretary to the Urban Development Department (UDD) was also present in the court, which directed all the respondents including BBMP, Revenue Department, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board and Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board to file a joint action taken report within four weeks and adjourned the hearing to September 4.

The division bench of Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice MGS Kamal on Tuesday was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed in 2014 by the Citizen Action Group, who were also directed by the Court to give their suggestions.

The compliance report by BBMP stated that the report of the Environmental Management and Policy Research Institute (EMPRI), an autonomous institute established by Karnataka government, and the interim report of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) regarding conservation of lakes and SWDs have been accepted by the BBMP and were being implemented. The final NEERI report is awaited.

It said that of the 202 lakes, a survey has been conducted on 160 of them. Of these, 21 are without any encroachment and 19 are in disuse. Bellandur and Varthur lakes are under Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) while Hebbal, Puttenahalli and Nagawara lakes are under the Forest Department. Out of the remaining 42 lakes, a survey is being undertaken. As many as 160 lakes have been fully fenced while 23 are partially fenced.

Encroachment on 160 lakes has been identified and the Revenue Department has been informed to clear them. As many as 114 lakes have been developed and their maintenance entrusted to contractors, through tenders. Home guards surveillance 24/7 is in place and Rs five crore earmarked for CCTVs, according to the report.

Citizens can file complaints on the ‘Sahaaya’ app and on an average 325 complaints per day are being received. ‘Project Rajakaluve’ aims to protect SWDs. The report mentions various other measures undertaken by BBMP to protect lakes.

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