BENGALURU: In a win for citizen activism, just a week after illegal settlements started mushrooming in the buffer zone of the Bellandur Lake which is prohibited by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) swung into action on Tuesday and got four out of the 23 sheds removed.
These settlements, allegedly of Bangladeshi immigrants, started coming up last Monday, to the surprise of residents, who informed lake marshals and thereafter the BBMP who got some of the hutments cleared on Tuesday afternoon. S Singh, a Bellandur resident, said, “We know they are Bangladeshi immigrants because they didn’t know anything about the geography of West Bengal from where they claimed to hail from. They are ragpickers and would discard waste from their daily collection on the lake bed. Since they have no water connection or sanitation facilities, they would also defecate openly there.”
Sunil Kumar, BBMP Joint Commissioner, Mahadevapura zone, said, “I was informed about it by the lake marshal on Monday evening. There was a lot of resistance from the inhabitants. On Tuesday, we spoke to them and made them dismantle their structures but on Wednesday we may go ahead with earth movers. There are four areas on the lake bed with illegal settlements, we visited only one on Tuesday. There was a plan to have 250 sheds for 2,500 people. According to the NGT order, no construction is permitted within 500 metre of the lake.”
Colonel Rajbir Singh, who the lake marshals report to, said, “The lake marshals have been deployed there since March 1. The idea is to keep the lake bed free of debris or any form of dumping. When the residents told us, we immediately informed the BBMP of the settlements. The occupants allege that they were given the space on rent which is not true.”