Ecological cost of SEZ project high: IISc study

Ecological cost of SEZ project high: IISc study

A study by a team of scientists from the Centre for Ecological Sciences, IISc, completed in May has revealed that the proposal of the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB) to set up a special economic zone (SEZ) in and around the Bellandur lake will need at least 4.58 million litres of water per day, besides causing a number of irreversible damages to the surrounding ecosystem.

In the current situation, where the City faces serious water shortages with sources of water fast drying up, the supply of such a huge amount of water may not be easy, according to the study.

The study titled ‘Conservation of Bellandur Wetlands: Obligation of Decision Makers to Ensure Intergenerational Equity’, notes that with the Hesaraghatta lake having already dried up and the Tippagondanahalli reservoir drying up, the Cauvery - with a supply of 1,410 million litres a day (MLD) - remains the only source of water to the City.

“There is no way of increasing the drawal from the Cauvery as the allocation by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal for the entire urban and rural population in the Cauvery basin in Karnataka is only 8.75 tmc ft. Bangalore City is already drawing more water than the allocation for the entire rural and urban population in the Cauvery basin,” the study claimed. 

Also, “alterations in the topography” due to the project will increase the chances of flooding of the surrounding areas since the area, in any case, comes under the “flood-prone zone”.  An estimated 14,000 more vehicles are expected to be added to the present traffic, if the project comes through.

The study highlights that the project is in complete violation of the rules. A buffer zone of 30 metres, with no development activity, has to be maintained around water bodies, according to the Revised Master Plan (RMP) 2015, Section 17 of the Karnataka Town and Country Planning (KTCP) Act, 1961, and Section 32 of the BDA Act, 1976, and the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) rules 2010, Government of India. The High Court of Karnataka, in 2008, had also provided for the protection of lakes and their canal networks from encroachment.