NGT order on maintaining buffer zone around SWDs applicable to Bengaluru and outskirts too

The National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) direction on maintaining a buffer zone around storm water drains (SWD) is applicable not only within the city, but throughout the Bangalore Metropolitan Region (BMR), which comprises the districts of Bengaluru Urban, Bengaluru Rural, and Ramanagara. The state government conveyed this in a clarification recently.

The NGT order will be applicable in the jurisdictional area of the Bangalore Metropolitan Region Development Authority (BMRDA), an autonomous body for planning and supervising of areas within BMR, which is spread over 8,005 sq km. Up until now, only the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) had to follow the NGT order on buffer zone while giving approval for new constructions near SWDs.

An official from the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) confirmed the development: “We had sought clarification from the urban development department and it has clarified that the NGT order is for Bengaluru city, which means the entire area falling under the BMRDA limits which also includes BBMP and BDA’s areas. Every new construction has to follow the NGT order before obtaining new
plans.”

Obviously, the development has not gone down well with builders, who will now not get approval for construction unless they leave increased space near storm water drains.

“We are already losing land in Bengaluru city due to the new buffer zone criterion. The new order will kill the real estate business in the other parts of Bengaluru city. We will end up losing land and money too,” said a builder.

In an order issued in May 2016, additional chief secretary Mahendra Jain had asked BBMP, BDA and the urban district administration to coordinate with each other and mark boundaries for all SWDs and lakes. He had also directed officials to not issue building plans that fall under the buffer zone.

In May 2016, the NGT had issued a landmark judgement on keeping a75 metre buffer zone around lakes and wetlands. In the case of lakes, 75 metre from the periphery of water body was to be maintained as a green belt and a buffer zone for all existing water bodies. A buffer zone of 50 m was to be maintained from the edge of a primary SWD, 35 m from the edge of a secondary SWD, and 25 m from a tertiary SWD.

The SEIAA official claimed that while enforcing these directions, the authorities faced certain practical difficulties due to lack of clarity. The secretary to ecology and environment department had sought clarification from the law department on the area over which the NGT order would be applicable — BBMP, BDA and/or BMRDA limits.

The SEIAA also sought the definition for primary, secondary and tertiary SWDs. It also asked about maintenance of buffer zones around SWDs that have been considered as ‘kharab’ by the district administration, and government and public rights are extinguished after collecting due payment.

The SEIAA officials decided to seek the opinion of advocate Devraj Ashok, who is in the panel of the authority, especially with respect to applicability of buffer zone in such cases where the state government extinguishes rights on a drain shown in the village map.

Credits Bangalore Mirror

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