Bangalore environmentalists happy, but feel implementation challenging

Residents and citizen activists are happy about the National Green Tribunal ( NGT) verdict, but they feel there is still a long way as the real challenge lies in implementing it.

Welcoming the Tribunal ruling, DS Rajashekhar from Kalyan Nagar Welfare Association notes that the revised buffer zone norms for lakes, wetlands and Storm Water Drains (SWDs) could help in protecting the waterbodies in the future.

“The SWDs should carry rainwater to the lakes but have become filled with sewage water. In my locality, I see many people getting illegal sewage connections that in turn leads to SWD. The government has to look into this aspect as well and introduce strict regulations on illegal sewage connections,” he points out.

According to Arbind Gupta from Save Bangalore Lakes, the landmark judgement has given a boost to the morale of activists involved in rejuvenation of lakes. He expains, “The penalty imposed on Mantri Tech Zone and Coremind for illegally encroaching the wetland of Agara and Bellandur lakes is a clear message to all builders.”

Gupta feels all the waterbodies in the City should be declared as environmentally sensitive zones. “The next step that needs to be taken by government is to go through the NGT report in detail and work out the changes in approval policy granted by various government departments for construction projects.”

A resident of Bellandur, Shivakumar says the lake has remained highly polluted for the last ten years. “I am hopeful that the Bellandur lake will be restored thanks to the NGT verdict,” he adds.

Ted K Dass, a lake activist, working for rejuvenation of Horamavu lake says that the violators are not just the builders but also the government officials who give permission for construction projects and people who buy the properties.

“There is already a Supreme Court order that states that there should not be any development within the 30 metres from the edge of the lake. SC order itself is not being followed. Hence, I am concerned about how it is going to be implemented,” notes Dass.

Namma Bengaluru Foundation (NBF) and Forward Foundation, the lead petitioners in the Agara-Bellandur Lake case have already hailed the verdict. They are now pushing the government and Chief Minister Siddaraiamah to effectively implement what the verdict spells out.

How buffer zones shrinked

The guidelines on buffer zone for lakes were introduced by the forest department 30 years ago in view of urbanisation of Bengaluru, said environmentalist Yellappa Reddy.

“Lakes were in the custody of the department. Hence, it had proposed 300 metres of buffer zone from the edge of the lakes. Due to pressure from realtors, it was reduced to 100 metres,” he said.

He blamed BDA for reducing the buffer zone to a mere 30 metres. The BBMP had adopted a policy of treating 10 metres from the edge of Rajakaluves as buffer zone, said BBMP chief engineer (SWD) Siddegowda.

“Any structure within 10 metres from Rajakaluves has been liable for demolition. The onus to ensure implementation of NGT order lies with the plan sanctioning authorities.”

Credits Deccan Herald

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