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‘Who is the custodian of Bellandur, Varthur lakes?’

Questioning NGT, activists, citizens ask who is accountable; question gained importance, after they learnt that panel’s term ends on June 30

Published: 22nd June 2019 06:36 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd June 2019 06:36 AM   |  A+A-

NGT committee members, headed by U V Singh, inspect Varthur catchment area in Varthur| NAGARAJA GADEKAL

By Express News Service

BENGALURU:  Activists and locals of Bellandur, Varthur and Sarjapura on Friday questioned the 
National Green Tribunal (NGT) appointed committee on who was the legal custodian of the lakes. 
The question gained importance, after citizens learnt that the committee’s term ends on June 30. This is just before works on rejuvenating Bellandur and Varthur lakes will commence. 

Friday’s meeting was the first held by the committee after its constitution in December 6, 2018. The meeting was held at KK English High School. It was held to request farmers to cooperate and make alternative arrangements for one year when dewatering and weeding will be done at Bellandur and Varthur lakes. It was also held to tell locals to cooperate. 

Citizens said, with the existence of too many agencies — Bangalore Development Authority, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board and Minor Irrigation Department, there was too much confusion and nobody took ownership of the lakes. 

Locals also asked the committee to explain the action plan on rejuvenating the lakes. They demanded for transparency in government’s working, so that citizens can also be prepared. While answering queries, committee member U V Singh said, “The tenure of NGT committee ends on June 30. However, since committee head Retd Lokayukta Justice N Santosh Hegde is out of country, the committee has sought time till July 30 to submit the final report. It has also informed NGT of the encroachments and problems in the lakes.” 

Singh said the biggest problem at Bellandur lake continues to be the illegal immigrants’ colony residing around it. “It is being legally handled. Fencing has been done at Varthur lake. If people get to know about any encroachments, they should inform the committee immediately,” he said. “Minor Irrigation Department is the father of all lakes, after Lake Development Authority. All other agencies are doing their assigned job. Land around lakes belong to revenue department,” Singh said.

‘Plan to make it ready by 2020’
Singh said the plan is to dewater and desilt and be ready by July 2020. “ The first weeding was done in 2006, but it was of not much use unless water and silt is handled. So, now lakes will be dewatered, desilting and weeding will follow. Directions have also been issued to BWSSB to ensure STPs are ready by July 2020, so that only fresh water enters the lakes after desilting. Quality and quantity of silt is also being assessed. Committee and government are looking at integrated approach to handle the silt, to send it to abandoned quarries, utilise it to create facilities, give it to farmers and brick industry,” he said.

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