Realtor heads Karnataka state pollution control board

Article from ET Realty

BENGALURU: The newly appointed chairman of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) Lakshman is in the real estate business. This has raised fears in certain circles about conflict of interest as the nodal agency is the arbiter of a key clearance certificate for buildings in the state. On his part, Lakshman has categorically said he would keep in abeyance all his business as long as he holds his current position as the KSPCB chief and wouldn’t allow hidden agendas to dictate his work. Lakshman, in the past, had been associated with several controversial projects, such as the Vyalikaval Layout in Nagawara, say some activists. A former board member and social activist SR Hiremath, said: “When his primary business is construction, how fit is he to head the board? There will be a clear conflict of interest.”

However, Lakshman is categorical that there wouldn’t be any issues. “I am going to keep in abeyance all my business as long as I am in this position. I can safely declare that there will be no hidden agendas and that I will work for the betterment of Bengaluru,” he said.

While agreeing that the firm in which he was a managing partner had got into a joint development with the Vyalikaval House Building Co-operative Society , Lakshman said “But that has been upheld by the government and the Supreme Court.” He said he couldn’t comment on the topic as he has resigned from that firm. “Arguments about the past can go on. I am a genuine builder, even the AT Ramaswamy Committee found me clean I am focused on my vision for Bengaluru. There will be no conflict of interest,” he added

KSPCB plans to set up thinktank

Bengaluru: The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board plans to form a thinktank, comprising chemistry professors who understand the frothing of Bengaluru lakes, environmental experts who can explain how to increase oxygen levels and lawyers who will ensure the initiatives to make Karnataka less polluted are within the legal framework. However, no KSPCB member will be part of he thinktank.

KSPCB chairman Lakshman said the think tank will find ways to increase the oxygen level, restore water bodies, reduce pollution of drinking water and manage sanitation and forest areas, besides forming guidelines for the industry and public to prevent pollution. The KSPCB has approached Professor ARK Rao of IISc and Bengaluru-based environmentalist Praveen Bhargav for the purpose.

“We will talk to more experts and constitute a team. All this will be done with approvals in consultation with the forest minister and the chief minister. In Bengaluru, our priority will be the lakes and prevention of pollution in general,”Lakshman said.

He said based on advice from experts, chemistry professors will be roped in to study and understand the frothing so that a long-term solution can be put in place.

The thinktank will also have lawyers. “In many cases, decisions or actions are challenged in the court and it delays implementation. We want to be clear on the legal aspect before any new measure is proposed, reducing the scope for legal battles.” TNN

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