Layout formed on Venkataraya lake 'illegal'

Layout formed on Venkataraya lake 'illegal'

Layout formed on Venkataraya lake 'illegal'

It took 11 months for the Bangalore South tahsildar to admit that the layout formed on Venkataraya lake in Gubbalala village is illegal.

He has also endorsed the action against the accused Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) officers for destroying a lake.

Deccan Herald broke the story about the lakebed layout on June 11, 2013, under the title “How BDA stole lake land to form a layout.” After the report was published, four applications under the Right To Information (RTI) Act were filed, seeking details from the BDA, the Lake Development Authority (LDA) and Bangalore South taluk office.

While the BDA gave misleading information and the LDA washed its hands of, saying it does not have powers to restore lakes, the Bangalore South tahsildar sat on the application for 11 months. It was only after Chief Information Commissioner A K M Nayak’s reprimands and strong directions that the tahsildar was compelled to part with the information.

The replies given by the tahsildar to the RTI queries are quite shocking. Quoting the N Lakshman Rao Committee report, the tahsildar has said the lake was handed over by the Revenue Department to the Forest Department for “foreshore planting to develop a tree park around the lake.”

Replying to an RTI query, the tahsildar said, “Our department does not have the permission letter granted to the BDA to form a layout on the lakebed. Also, the BDA did not seek our opinion about acquiring the lake land.”

BBMP officials said Rao might have handed over the lake to the Forest Department to beautify it, but it turned a blind eye to the encroachment on it. The tahsildar also agreed there was scope for action against the erring BDA officials for flouting the rules to form a layout on the lakebed. The officer said the lake can be revived with the LDA’s help.

Venkataraya lake was the immediate catchment area of Subramanyapura lake in Uttarahalli. Once it was filled, rainwater would flow into Subramanyapura lake through the natural canal. There were attempts to grab Subramanyapura lake and the 117-ft wide and 850-metre long natural canal that connected it with Venkataraya lake. Due to a sustained campaign by this paper to protect Subramanyapura lake from land sharks, the canal was saved and in the process, the layout on Venkataraya lake was discovered.