Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding remedial action for restoration of Bellandur, Agara and Varthur lakes at Bangalore, Karnataka, 12/03/2021
Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Court on its own Motion Vs State of Karnataka dated 12/03/2021. The issue for consideration was remedial action for restoration of Bellandur, Agara and Varthur lakes at Bangalore, including preventing discharge and dumping of pollutants, removing encroachments from catchment area and other steps for restoration. The matter had been dealt with by the Tribunal on several occasions in the last almost four years.
Raj Panjwani, Amicus Curiae informed the NGT that the progress in the matter was very slow and the problem has been continuing for the last four years and that the state authorities have not come up to the expectations. For instance, the action taken against industrial units for discharging the industrial waste without treatment by not installing requisite STPs was inadequate. Out of 61 defaulting units, action was taken only against 10, while compliance was only by 25. Action was yet to be taken against 26 industrial units. No action had been taken against erring officers.
Though compensation of Rs. 271.50 crores has been assessed against the defaulting units, no recovery has been made even though non-compliance is continuing. Likewise, on the issue of desilting the Bellandur lake falling in the defence area, it was said that non-hazardous silt can be deposited on the defence land for development of army training areas and reclaiming of low-lying land. Learned Amicus has submitted that reclaiming of low-lying land would alter the character of the wetland, against established environmental norms. The low-lying land in question is wetland and must be maintained as such.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) after going through the reports and also submissions made by the Amicus Curiae noted that some progress had been made but the court agreed with the Amicus that the progress had been very slow and inadequate. The court said that "monitoring by a Tribunal or Tribunal appointed Committee cannot be for indefinite period and ownership of execution of action plan for restoration of pristine ecology of the lakes/wetlands must be finally owned and taken over by the State authorities, headed by the Chief Secretary". All pending projects for setting up of STPs, fencing of lake, removal of encroachments must be executed expeditiously. Particular attention should be given to preventing formation of foam and fire incidents.