No more MoUs with corporate entities for lake maintenance for now: HC

A file photo of Jakkur lake in Bengaluru.  

The High Court of Karnataka on Wednesday restrained the State government from executing any more agreements/memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with corporate entities for development and maintenance of tanks/lakes in the city till the court examines the legality and validity of such agreements/MoUs already executed with a few entities.

The court, however, said this would not prevent the government from taking funds from corporate entities for maintenance of lakes.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Ashok S. Kinagi passed the interim order during the hearing of a public interest litigation petition related to lakes and storm-water drains. While going through a draft copy of an MoU, the Bench termed it as a “disturbing feature” certain terms and conditions mentioned in it and pointed out that the conditions indicate that the State was “virtually parting away lakes to corporate entities”.

Prima facie, by way of the MoU, the State government wants to shift its obligation to corporate entities,” the Bench observed while directing the government to submit the copies of the MoUs already entered into with corporate entities for the court’s examination.

Leo Saldanha of Environment Support Group, who was added as a party to the PIL petition proceedings, had during an earlier hearing brought to the court’s notice the appeal made by the Chief Minister, as the Chairperson of the Karnataka Tank Conservation and Development Authority (KTCDA), through public notices issued in newspapers in December last year inviting corporate companies to take up lake development and maintenance task as part of their corporate social responsibility. It was Mr. Saldanha’s contention that manner of involvement of corporate entities was contrary to the undertaking given to the court by the government in a different PIL petition eight years ago.


Meanwhile, the Bench directed the council of the Burhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to take steps for finalising the solid waste management (SWM) bylaw, draft of which was published on July 31, 2019, in its very next meeting. The Bench directed the BBMP Commissioner to inform the council about this order while pointing the delay of more than two years in framing the SWM bylaws as per the mandate of the SMW Rules, 2016, notified under the Environment (Protection) Act.


While pointing out that no proper survey of all lakes in the State, including those in the city, was carried out even after eight years of a direction issued by the court in 2012 in another PIL petition related to the city’s lakes, the Bench directed the government to ensure that the committees, established now as per the 2012 direction of the court, complete the survey of lakes across the State, demarcate the boundaries, and take steps to remove encroachments.

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Printable version | May 17, 2021 4:28:15 PM |

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