Its 30 metre buffer zone in Bengaluru!

But a final decision by the state government on whether to follow NGT order of extending lake buffer zone to 75 metres from the existing 30 metres, will decide their fate

A sizeable section of the city’s population living on the fringes of lakes and water bodies may heave a sigh of relief over whether or not their properties would be demolished – and yet, with a degree of uncertainty for the future.

The house committee on Friday resolved to follow the 30-metre buffer zone as per the Zonal Regulation Act in 2007 rather than the National Green Tribunal (NGT)-revised 75 metres in May 2016.

The committee’s Friday decision means this: Although those whose properties stand within the 30-metre lake buffer zone are sure to be demolished as “encroachers” as per the high court orders, those whose properties stand in the 45-metre NGT-extended buffer area are a relieved lot. But they will have to wait with bated breaths to know what the future has in store for them. This is because the house committee’s decision will finally depend on whether or not the state government accepts the NGT order or appeals against it.

Concluding its study and collecting all the relevant information and records pertaining to the extent of lakes and encroachment, the house committee is giving a final shape to its voluminous report.

The NGT order on the lake buffer zone had left them confused. Holding consultations with the commissioners of Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), and other stakeholders of Bengaluru Urban and Rural districts on Friday, the state assembly speaker KB Koliwad, who heads the committee, finally resolved to stick to the buffer zone detailed in the Zonal Regulation Act, and not the one revised by the NGT.

Explaining the decision, Koliwad informed Bangalore Mirror: “The state government is yet to take a formal stand on NGT’s order. We do not know whether it has accepted the verdict or is planning to appeal against the NGT’s order. As there is no clarity on it and the government is yet to take a decision in this regard, we have restricted ourselves to the 30-metre buffer zone, and not an inch further as stated by the NGT.”

He further clarified: “The state government has all the possibilities to appeal against the NGT’s verdict; only after that will we be able to take a final call on the measurement of buffer zone. So far, the only available detail about the buffer zone measurement is the Zonal Regulation Act of 2007, which says that buffer zone is the area up to 30 metres around the lake. Accordingly, anything within 30 metres will be recommended by us for demolition.”

In May 2016, the NGT, while hearing a petition on the proposed Special Economic Zone (SEZ) on Agara-Bellandur wetland by Bengaluru-based builders, had redefined the measurement of the buffer zone around the lakes. It extended the buffer zone width from the existing 30 metres to 75 metres. Although builders and developers under the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India banner had appealed to the SC against the NGT order, the apex court had refused to admit the petition which had sought a reduction in the width of the lake buffer zone.

When asked whether the committee would submit its report in the upcoming winter session of the legislature at Belagavi, Koliwad said, “We have completed our inquiries and collected all the data. It requires some time to process it and consolidate to give it a final shape. It is not possible to submit the report in Belagavi session. Instead of submitting one whole report, we will be submitting an interim report at first and subsequently the final report. The report will be divided into three parts – lakes, buffer zone and encroachment. Hopefully in a few months’ time, we will be able to submit the report.”

Credits Bangalore Mirror

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