BENGALURU: As many as 124 people who were allotted sites by the Bangalore Development Authority in Banashankari 6th Stage had no idea that their sites were developed on an encroached lake bed.
This was revealed after a probe by Upa Lokayukta Justice Subhash B Adi following a complaint by one Kumaraswamy, who said the lake bed area on Survey No. 8 was encroached.
After Justice Adi sent a notice to the BDA about the encroachment, the civic body admitted that it had developed a layout with 124 sites on four acres and 15 guntas of Venkatarayana Kere in Gubbalala.
The BDA justified its action claiming that the lake had lost its character. It also said it cannot give alternative sites to the allottees as it would cause a financial burden of `24 crore.
Unhappy over this, Justice Adi said, “The BDA, being a government authority, acquiring the said lake area to form a layout is nothing but the fence eating the crop. It has become a destroyer of lakes instead of protecting them.”
He has summoned the additional chief secretary of the urban development department by March 6 to know the stand of the government on the BDA’s ‘irresponsible’ act.
During the probe, the BDA did not dispute that land on Survey No. 8 is ‘kere angala’ or lake bed area. However, it claimed that the lake had lost its characteristics over time and did not have a source of water, and hence the land was acquired for forming a layout.
BDA’s deputy secretary-II also informed Justice Adi that the matter was referred to the commissioner who, in turn, had sought the final decision from the government on the matter.
“Revenue records state that the acquired lake was ‘Venkatarayana Kere’. Even at the time of acquisition it was a lake. However, for reasons best known to the revenue authorities, the land acquisition officer of the BDA has not shown the said land in the acquisition notification as ‘lake’ but as ‘government kharab land’,” Justice Adi told Express.
“The authorities callously ignored the relevant entries in revenue records and the law. They did not consider if the lake area could be developed as a layout or not at the cost of public money,” he said. Under Section 192(A) of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act, BDA officials can be prosecuted, he said and added that even the abettor is also liable to be prosecuted, he added.
He also brought to the notice of BDA the judgments of the High Court in 1995 as well as in 2008, which clearly said the government should not grant or allot any tank bed land within Bengaluru Metropolitan Area. Later, the government also issued a notification to protect 115 lakes and constituted the Lake Development Authority.
“However, the BDA decision has raised doubts about whether the government is serious about the protection of lakes,” he said.