Open drains across city to be fenced: BBMP to HC

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has told the Karnataka High Court that the chainlink fencing of all open drains will be completed by September 2020.

BBMP made this submission when the High Court bench headed by Chief Justice AS Oka was hearing a petition filed by the Namma Bengaluru Foundation (NBF) on the death of nine-year-old Geetha Lakshmi after she fell into an uncovered stormwater drain in 2014.

In November 2019, the Karnataka High Court had directed the Urban Development Department (UDD) for an update on the progress of work across various municipal corporations to fence open drains.

In an affidavit, the UDD had also submitted similar details of the progress of work on fencing open drains across districts of the state.

In its petition in 2014, the NBF had asked the High Court to give directions to the Urban Development Department and the Commissioner of the BBMP to prepare a comprehensive, timebound action plan for safety and security mechanisms for civic services, like stormwater drains and electricity supply.

The petition has also sought directives to the state government to prosecute negligent public officials, whose failure to carry out their statutory duties results in loss of life and limb.

In the previous hearing, held on December 10, 2019, the NBF sought punishment for the civic official allegedly responsible for the death of the nine-year-old child. The Karnataka government, however, stated that the contractor responsible for the mishap had entered into an out-of-court settlement with the parents of the deceased.

The petitioner had earlier argued that even though compensation has been granted by the state, no enquiry has been undertaken to affix responsibility on the negligent officials. They further contended that BBMP cannot by-pass its mandatory municipal functions by using the ruse of lack of funds when the civic body said drains will be covered based on the availability of funds.

The court stated that it will consider whether action should be taken against the alleged errant official on February 18, which has been fixed as the next date of hearing.

In one of the earlier hearings, BBMP had said that it had stopped covering drains with concrete slabs, based on a Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) direction.

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