BENGALURU: Expressing concern over the health of people and environment pollution, Lokayukta Justice P Vishwanatha Shetty has initiated suo motu proceedings based on reports published in The New Indian Express on the impact of polluted water supplied to lakes in Chikkaballapur and Kolar districts from the KC Valley project.The New Indian Express had published the following stories — “B’luru May Reap Toxic Veggies, For Froth It Sows”, “We don’t want another Bellandur” and “Sheep are falling sick” in its edition dated July 20, 2018.
Justice Shetty issued notices to the Secretary, Minor Irrigation Department, Chairman, Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board, Chief Executive Officer, Lake Conservation and Development Authority, and the Commissioners of BBMP and BDA. Asking the Registry to forward the copy of the TNIE reports along with the notice to them, the Lokayukta asked them to submit their comments within four weeks after examining the issues raised in the TNIE stories and to take immediate remedial measures to protect the life and liberty of the people of the area.
Justice Shetty’s order says, “I am of the view that the news item published in TNIE can be treated as source material for me to initiate suo moto proceedings in exercise of the powers conferred on me under Section 7(1)(b) and 9 of the Karnataka Lokayukta Act. Accordingly, the Registry is directed to commence suo moto proceedings”. The Lokayukta said, “The stories of TNIE cannot be ignored at this stage, as it concerns public health and safety and any inaction or failure to take immediate remedial measures may seriously have adverse effect on the life and liberty of the people and animal population of the area”.
TNIE had highlighted that in Kolar and Chikkaballapur districts, the lakes were being polluted owing to the toxic chemicals from Bengaluru lakes reaching them. The story had also pointed out that polluted and toxic substances were being discharged from Bengaluru lakes (KC Valley Project) to the lakes in and around Kolar and Chikkaballapur districs. On account of that, vegetables that are being grown in these districts and supplied to the markets in Bengaluru city and other places, were also being contaminated.
Referring to observations made by the Supreme Court in the case of Subhash Kumar v/s State of Bihar and Others, the Lokayukta stated in his notice to the authorities that it is well settled that clean water and air are part of fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution which ensures right to life and liberty. It is in this background, it is needless to emphasis that the state and its authorities are under an obligation to keep all the lakes clean and free from any pollution, it said.
Water sample collected
Kolar: Four different government teams visited Lakshmisagara and Narasapura lakes and collected water samples on Saturday. The team also collected samples from borewells and open-wells in various parts of Kolar district to send it to a laboratory for tests.