Lake pollution: Karnataka officials can't hide from NGT

A clearly unhappy NGT principal bench, headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, said: “Suffice it to say that the state of Karnataka has shown lack of concern on such a sensitive matter, in spite of stringent orders of this tribunal, which is not conducive to the rule of law.” | Varthur lake. DH Photo

State officials must appear before the National Green Tribunal on November 27 to explain their failure to maintain Bellandur, Varthur and Agara lakes, following the Supreme Court rejection of the state plea.

The NGT had earlier asked an array of state government officials, including the assistant chief secretary (urban development), BBMP and BDA commissioners, BWSSB chairman and member secretary of the state pollution control board to appear with the compliant report on the cleaning of the three lakes.

The tribunal asked the officials why coercive action, including civil imprisonment, should not be ordered against them for violating its orders.

A clearly unhappy NGT principal bench, headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, said: “Suffice it to say that the state of Karnataka has shown lack of concern on such a sensitive matter, in spite of stringent orders of this tribunal, which is not conducive to the rule of law.”

Earlier, the NGT-appointed committee under Justice Santosh Hegde’s chairmanship said the state government failed to comply with its order to deposit Rs 25 crore by the BBMP and furnish performance guarantee in the form of a Rs 100-crore deposit by the state.

In its report to the NGT, the panel mentioned failures by the state government to set up an adequate number of sewage treatment plants (STPs) and not remove construction waste, among other things.  

In December 2018, the NGT asked the Karnataka government to deposit Rs 500 crore in an escrow account towards implementing the environmental plan for the lakes, Rs 100 crore as performance guarantee, Rs 25 crore as fine on the BBMP and to pay Rs 50 crore to the Central Pollution Control Board for allowing the lakes to pollute.

Though the state appealed against the order in the Supreme Court and received interim stay on depositing the money, the top court rejected the petition on Friday.

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