Elections have left KLCDA in limbo

Elections have left KLCDA in limbo

Agara Lake. DH file photo

The Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority, along with a cluster of waterbodies in the city, are left with uncertainties due to the Assembly elections.

While Governor Vajubhai Vala gave his assent to the government proposal to repeal the KLCDA Act on March 23, it is uncertain who precisely is in charge of the four lakes falling under the authority's control. There is also no clarity on where the government would accommodate the staff working with KLCDA.

The Vengayanakere, Agara, Hebbal and Nagawara Lakes are under the KLCDA. The contract to maintain the Hebbal and Nagawara Lakes will expire in 2019. The two lakes have been handed to private agencies on a 10-year lease.

A senior bureaucrat said the election model code of conduct had come into effect before the government could decide on the issue.

Following the governor's assent, a gazette notification was given on March 26, informing that the government has repealed the KLCDA Act. Stripping the authority of its powers, the government has handed all the waterbodies in the state to the minor irrigation department.

But officials at the lake body are yet to receive any communication. "We haven't been informed to whom we should hand over the lakes," said a KLCDA official. "Also, no decision has been taken on what should be done with the projects we had started."

Meanwhile, stakeholders are discussing on where to assign the 14 staffers with the lake authority. While most of them feel they should be repatriated to the forest department, officials feel their expertise should be used in lake conservation.

"We request the government to shift us to the minor irrigation department to help them manage all the lakes," a KLCDA official, who does not wish to be named, said. "We've worked on all the lakes and know the level of progress on the works. We're well-equipped to continue them. Recruiting a new team would only delay the progress."

KLCDA and Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) are working on a project to ascertain the condition of the lakes, their ground coordinates, details on their encroachment and accurate lake boundaries.

With the government scrapping KLCDA, Isro is not sure who they should share the details with. The same uncertainty exists in the lake pollution study, undertaken with the Environment Management and Policy Research Institute (Empri).

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