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Clear encroachments on drains: Karnataka CM

Bengaluru: Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy has directed the officials to clear all constructions on storm water drains in the city to enable free flow of water into the lakes.

Chairing Lake Development Authority (LDA) meeting here on Thursday, Mr Kumaraswamy also directed officials to rehabilitate the poor, who had encroached storm water drains.

Mr Kumaraswamy also told officials to get in touch with various corporate and private entities, who would like to conserve lakes. When they come forward, officials should ensure that they get all clearances at earliest. However, the terms and conditions should be clearly spelled out, so the conservation programmes do not suffer.

He said the lake conservation should be done in a scientific manner, after taking advise of experts and scientists, so that  permanent solutions are sought.

The Chief Minister pointed out that rejuvenation of large lakes like Bellandur will take time. To rejuvenate Bellandur lake as per direction of National Green Tribunal, the LDA was preparing a detailed project report, which would be sent to a committee set up by NGT, he added.

He also  told the officers that the damage which has already been caused to our lakes cannot be set right overnight, stringent measures are required to be taken in this regard. He directed the officers to prepare a DPR after studying the ground realities and to take up these projects phase by phase in a time-bound manner under CSR initiatives of corporate sector, as per a statement from the CM’s office. Kumaraswamy also directed the Additional Chief Secretary of Urban Development Department, Mahendra Jain to prepare an alternate plan to provide adequate housing to the poor who have built their homes on the storm water drains (rajakaluve). Officials were also asked to draw action plans to de-silt the lakes of Uttara Karnataka region and to make them more functional. Incidentally, a recent media report pointed out that the Karnataka government has not sought funds from the repair, renovation and restoration (RRR) scheme of the Union Ministry of Water Resources.

This move by the government comes as the Supreme Court is hearing the state government’s appeal to quash the heavy fines imposed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for the state’s failure to take adequate steps to rejuvenate the infamous Bellandur lake. The NGT’s Principal Bench had imposed a fine of Rs 50 crore on the Karnataka government and Rs 25 crore on BBMP.

The NGT in its recent order has asked the state government to transfer Rs 500 crore to an escrow account for execution of the action plan to clean Bellandur. It has further warned of a fine of Rs 100 crore, if the government fails to take corrective action. The state government also wants the Supreme Court to allow dilution of buffer zone of lakes and storm water drains, set by the NGT.

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