State told to set aside ₹500 cr. for Bengaluru lakes

NGT orders Karnataka to place money in escrow for use in cleaning waterbodies

December 07, 2018 01:05 am | Updated 01:05 am IST - NEW DELHI

A view of the froth caused by untreated sewage in the Bellandur Lake.

A view of the froth caused by untreated sewage in the Bellandur Lake.

Coming down heavily on the Karnataka government for failing to “protect and rejuvenate” Bengaluru’s Bellandur, Agara and Varthur lakes, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday directed the State government to transfer ₹500 crore to an escrow account.

The amount is to be utilised for execution of action plans to clean the waterbodies. Observing that untreated sewage continued to flow into the waterbodies “indiscriminately”, a Bench, headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, directed the State government to deposit ₹50 crore to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) as environmental compensation.

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has been directed to deposit an environmental compensation of ₹25 crore. The green panel further said that the State government has to furnish a performance guarantee to execute the plan in a time-bound manner. “The performance guarantee will undertake to pay a further amount of ₹100 crore for failure in execution of the action plan,” the NGT said.

Monitoring panel

A panel, to be headed by former Supreme Court judge N. Santosh Hegde and comprising representatives from the CPCB, the State Pollution Control Board and T.V. Ramachandra of the Indian Institute of Science, will monitor implementation.

“The committee may oversee the timelines and the action plan, which may be prepared by the State of Karnataka or the BBMP,” the Bench said.

The Additional Chief Secretary of the Karnataka government will be responsible for executing the directions of the tribunal.

The State government has also been asked to identify officials who have failed to execute previous orders of the tribunal. “The government must identify the persons responsible for executing the action plan, and any failure in their performance should be recorded and considered for their career progression. A similar exercise may be undertaken to identify officers responsible in the past. Such exercise may be completed within three months from today,” the Bench said.

Meanwhile, noting that the discharge of effluents in waterbodies was a persistent issue, the Bench directed the apex control board to formulate policies pertaining to the same. “The CPCB must lay down guidelines to deal with such failures, including the scale of amount to be recovered from different individuals or authorities. This shall also include not only failure of discharging pollutants in waterbodies, but also in air, including the solid waste, plastic waste, hazardous waste, e-waste, biomedical waste, and construction and demolition waste,” the Bench added.

A report submitted by a committee constituted by the NGT earlier, to carry out an inspection of the lakes, said that the “biggest lake of Bengaluru, by sheer callousness and indifference of the authorities, has become the largest septic tank of the city”.

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