Observing that the State government has taken its own time to appoint CSIR-National Environmental Engineering Institute (NEERI) for an in-depth scientific study of lakes in the limits of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), the High Court of Karnataka on Tuesday set a 10-day deadline for the BBMP to pay the amount needed for the study and to execute the agreement with NEERI.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Mohammad Nawaz issued the direction after noticing that NEERI was yet to be assigned with the task though the court had issued a direction in this regard in June. The Bench was hearing a PIL petition, filed in 2014 on the issue of lack of maintenance of stormwater drains (SWDs) and of lakes by preventing entry of sewage into SWDs, through which the court is monitoring actions of the civic bodies.
Meanwhile, the bench declined the BBMP’s request to continue development works in Begur lake, particularly the construction of three islands in the lake and the installing of a Shiva statue on one of the islands.
It said that prima facie, permission granted to the BBMP by the authority constituted under the Karnataka Tank Conservation and Development Authority Act, 2014, was contrary to Section 12(2) of the Act which prohibits construction any structure on tank land, occupying of any tank land or part there of or causing any obstruction of the natural or normal course of inflow or outflow of water into, or from, the tanks. The authority had no power to grant such permission as structures being put up are neither bridges, roads, or similar construction for which permission can be granted.
Meanwhile, the State government informed the Court that it will take a decision on 19 ‘disappeared’ lakes due to the diversion of lakes for other purposes after NEERI submits its report on the same. The court had earlier asked the government to decide to either restore or create artificial lakes to compensate for the loss of 19 lakes.