Bangalore Urban Deputy Commissioner G C Prakash skipped an important meeting called by Upalokayukta Justice Subhash Adi on July 15, ignoring a clear direction to appear in person to submit the action plan for the removal of encroachment on lakes, Deccan Herald has learnt.
The Upalokayukta took interest in the City’s lakes following a complaint by former IFS officer and environmentalist Dr A N Yellappa Reddy to the Lok Adalat last year. Reddy had mentioned that 13 lakes developed by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) at a cost of Rs 40 crore faced imminent disappearance due to rampant encroachments and sewage.
Reddy highlighted the plight of other lakes too.
There have been meetings regarding the encroachment on lakes, particularly the 13 lakes mentioned by Reddy.
At the previous meetings, the BBMP chief engineer and superintending engineers for lakes and the BDA engineers had informed the Upalokayukta that although the list of lakes with encroachments had been furnished to the deputy commissioner of Bangalore Urban for immediate action, no initiative had been taken yet by the revenue authorities.
The BBMP and BDA officers said that unless the encroachments were removed, lakes could not be developed.
They also told Justice Adi that they had funds for lakes but could not utilise them unless encroachments were removed.
Based on the submission, Justice Adi directed Prakash to appear in person on July 15 and submit the action plan for removal of encroachments on lakes within the jurisdiction of the BBMP as well as the BDA.
Justice Adi noted in the letter to the deputy commissioner, “This issue (of submitting the action plan) has been pending since many days but there has been no action despite public grievance, both to our office and otherwise. Hence, the deputy commissioner is directed to take serious note of the same and keep himself present on July 15, 2014, at 11.30 am.”
No explanation provided
Top-level government sources said that Prakash neither turned up nor did give any explanation for his absence to the Upalokayukta.
This newspaper repeatedly contacted Prakash on phone and sent him text messages to know whether he attended the meeting. But he did not respond.
When contacted, Reddy said that the BDA had spent Rs 40 crore on 13 lakes but due to shortage of funds, it was unable to maintain them.
As per the government order, the BDA was to hand over the lakes to the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) but the Palike officials are not ready to take up the responsibility unless the encroachments are cleared.
Reddy said, “I had brought this issue to the notice of Lok Adalat after which the Lokayukta took interest in the matter. Almost all the lakes in the City have similar problems.”