New lake authority promises swift action against encroachments

Published: 03rd August 2016 03:52 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd August 2016 03:55 AM   |  A+A-

BENGALURU: THE newly-formed Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority (KLCDA) promises a new beginning — starting with removal of encroachments in Bellandur Lake in view of the recent flooding in south eastern parts of the city. However, ironically, KLCDA, which was constituted five months back, is severely short-staffed with just 14 personnel struggling to function as a regulatory authority against sanctioned strength of 96.

Unlike the toothless Lake Development Authority, which was an advisory body, the KLCDA is a regulatory authority, which can prevent and remove encroachments on water bodies as also restore, conserve and reclaim water bodies. It may be recalled the Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority Act, 2014, came into force from March 2016. Apart from 89 lakes in the city, it has regulatory authority over waterbodies in 7 city corporations.

Speaking to Express, KLCDA CEO Vidya Sagar said, urban flooding seem to have become a regular phenomenon (even during normal rains) in some areas. “We are trying to address this and hope to make a beginning from Bellandur caused by encroachments of rajakaluves and non-functional storm water drains. The others will follow.”

All the custodial agencies are different for different lakes — if some are under BBMP, some are under BDA,while others under minor irrigation.

Regarding mapping of water bodies in the state, Vidya Sagar added, “Only 40 per cent with GIS support has to be done. Our first responsibility is get them declared as wetlands under GOI regulations. Otherwise, with land use patterns changing very fast, they may vanish,”

For the process of appointment of Lake Wardens for lake Watch Committees, people can now directly apply to the authority. He added, “Anybody can enrol for this just by e-filing and we want people to come forward in conservation of the lakes.”

However, Water experts say KLCDA is still grappling with a major issue — whether they are an implementing or monitoring body and this confusion has to be addressed first. The purpose for which this body was formed is yet to take shape what with innumerable agencies responsible for the upkeep, maintenance and protection of tanks and lakes.

Kshitij Urs, People’s Campaign for Right to Water adds, “The present staff are not clear about their role — do they have to monitor the functioning of BBMP and BDA under whose jurisdiction most lakes are.”

Urs elaborates, “There are a lot of issues before the authority. Just before the new law was enacted, the High Court directed the formation of the District Lake Protection Committees in every district. Now in this event, how will the law and the KLCDA coordinate with district lake committees. Although the government has been sensible enough to formulate a good law after the white paper by the Koliwad committee, there are some issues which needs to be addressed immediately.”

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