The High Court of Karnataka on Monday directed that no authority will either conduct a parallel inquiry and pass any order on the issues related to encroachment of storm-water drains (SWDs) that are being dealt with by the Court in PIL petitions, and the orders passed by the Court shall be binding on all the authorities.
A Division Bench, comprising acting Chief Justice Alok Aradhe and Justice S. Vishwajith Shetty, issued the direction after the BBMP counsel clarified that a “parallel authority” had not issued a stay order against encroachment but had only asked the BBMP officials to adhere to the law while removing encroachments of SWDs.
Modalities to implement
Meanwhile, the Bench asked the BBMP to form a panel of three officers to examine the modalities to implement the recommendations made in the Comptroller and Auditor General of India’s (CAG) 2021 report on the “performance audit of management of SWDs in Bengaluru Urban area.”
The Bench said that the panel should submit its report to the Court along with the suggestions to implement the measures suggested in the CAG report.
The Bench found it necessary to form a panel for implementing the CAG report’s outcome after the BBMP could not tell the Court about any substantial steps taken to implement the measures suggested in the CAG report even though the BBMP had received the report way back in September 2021.
The Bench orally pointed to the BBMP counsel certain observations made in the CAG, like “the veracity of BBMP’s claim of having removed the encroachments was doubtful as audit observed during joint inspection that one of the encroachment stated to have been removed continued to exist.”
Meanwhile, the BBMP said that a process is under way to clear the remaining 602 encroachments of the total 2,626 identified.
Following this, the Bench directed the BBMP to submit a status report on the removal of SWDs encroachments fortnightly to the Court.
Roads and potholes
Also, the BBMP has assured the court that the remaining 221 potholes of the total 2,010 identified on major roads would be filled in 10 days, the 427 km of arterial roads requiring major repair and relying would be done by January 31, 2023, and resurfacing of around 2,500 km of others roads would be completed by March 31, 2023.
Following these assurances, the Bench directed the BBMP to submit a compliance report on progress made in pothole filling and removal of encroachment by September 30, the next date of hearing.