The Karnataka High Court on Thursday asked the Principal Secretary of the Urban Development Department to hold a meeting of representatives from all government agencies concerned to initiate steps to clear illegal industrial units and godowns from the protected zones of Tippegondanahalli (T.G. Halli) reservoir’s catchment area.

The court also directed the Principal Secretary to come out with modalities to secure details of non-agriculture related units established both prior and after classification of catchment area into different zones in November 2003, and prohibiting all non-agriculture-related activities depending upon the classification of zones.

While asking Additional Advocate-General H. Kantharaja to inform the government to take a decision on rejuvenating these units, the court clarified that its concern is about the labourers and their family members, who are dependent on these units for their livelihoods, and not the owners of such units. Incidentally, E. Krishnappa, MLC, is one of the persons who owns such units in protected zones.

Justice A.N. Venugopala Gowda issued the directions while hearing petitions filed by owners of various industrial units and godowns in protected zones of the catchment area questioning the notices issued by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) for demolishing such units while declaring many of them as having been constructed without approval from the authorities concerned.

The BDA had initiated action after a Division Bench of the High Court took suo motu cognisance of illegal constructions in the protected zones of the catchment area and asked the State and its agencies about the actions taken to protect the catchment area post-2003.

“Tippegondanahalli was a place of scenic beauty earlier. What is left there now? We do not know when the reservoir recorded full water storage level last,” the court observed.

Taken to task

When the counsel for the BDA pointed that a large number of constructions put up were illegal and action was initiated to clear such constructions, the court asked what the officials of the BDA were doing for over a decade after the area was classified into various protected zones.

“Were your officials working during the last 10 years? Weren’t they drawing their salaries?” Justice Gowda questioned. “Failure to prevent prohibited activities and illegal constructions has caused damage to environment and now those structures, put up by investing huge sums, will have to be demolished. They would not have invested money if the BDA had taken action several years ago,” the court observed.

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