More than two weeks after the Hulimavu Lake in south Bengaluru breached its bund and flooded hundreds of houses within a 2-km radius stretch, the Karnataka Lokayukta on Tuesday directed Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), the city civic body, to remove all encroachments along the lake within two weeks.
The Lokayukta has also directed the BBMP officials to fence the lake, as suggested by the petitioners, before the next hearing. Tuesday’s hearing was part of the 23 petitions submitted by citizenry groups, Namma Bengaluru Foundation and United Bengaluru, in the Lokayukta for the rejuvenation of the city’s ailing water bodies.
Hulimavu lake is one of the largest waterbodies in Bengaluru. According to a survey conducted by BBMP in 2017, 19 acres and 26 guntas of the 145-acres of the lake have been encroached upon. It was found that the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), which is the custodian of the lake, sanctioned the construction of a park, a road and a residential layout called Brindavan Extension (Layout) on the lake land.
Following the widely reported lake breach on November 24, the Lokayukta had also visited the lake and carried out an inspection.
The Lokayukta also ordered the BBMP to give school books and uniforms to 30 children within a week and also to fulfil the damage redressal for all the 374 houses (per the survey by BBMP) by January 10, 2020.
Earlier, in August 2017, the Lokayukta had ordered a survey, which revealed that the lake has been encroached upon. So far, as per the partial survey carried out by the BBMP authorities, it has been revealed that the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) is the biggest violator.
Reacting to this, freedom fighter H Doreswamy said, “It is sad to note that despite two years of delay, the officials are yet to take corrective measures to rejuvenate and restore the lakes. Being the government body, BDA has itself encroached the land and now it must be seen that the eviction must begin from here.”
Commenting on Tuesday’s proceedings, Harish Kumar, the general manager of Namma Bengaluru Foundation (NBF), said, “NBF and United Bengaluru will form a joint action plan after meeting the Chief Engineer (BBMP). We will also meet the BBMP Commissioner to implement the ‘fencing for all lakes’ issue as a first and immediate action, and then remove the encroachment immediately thereafter. We will also submit a report on the inspection of new lakes to the Lokayukta and file rejoinders to the existing lake petition.”