Committee unaware of lakes under its jurisdiction

Committee unaware of lakes under its jurisdiction

Committee unaware of lakes under its jurisdiction

The District Lake Protection Committee appears to have become a moribund institution given its record in restoring or protecting the lakes and tanks in the City.

On September 19, 2013, when the High Court cracked the whip, the State government formed the Bangalore Metropolitan Region Lake Protection Committee (BMRLPC) headed by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) Commissioner.

On the other hand, the district committee comprised the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Lake Development Authority (LDA) and the Deputy Conservator of Forest, Bangalore Urban District. The apex committee, headed by the principal secretary of the Revenue department, will have the CEO of LDA and member secretary of the State Legal Services Authority as members to oversee the maintenance of lakes by these committees.

However, even with all this in place, it seems like BMRLPC is not aware of the lakes under its jurisdiction. The committee has neither set its priorities nor prepared any action plan with other agencies to evict encroachments.

This lackadaisical attitude of BMRLPC came to fore when its chairperson, who happens to be the BDA Commissioner, sat on many complaints, raising doubts over the sincerity in dealing with cases of lake encroachment.

For instance, three months ago, a complaint was lodged with BMRLPC about the encroachment of Chikka Kallasandra Lake at Padmanabha Nagar in Bangalore South. The lake, which is under the custody of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, has been illegally encroached upon by land sharks. Sadly, though the Revenue department prepared a survey sketch of the lake, it could not demarcate the boundary.

About a month after the complaint was lodged, there was no follow-up or action. Then, an RTI application was filed seeking information about the status of the complaint and the BDA Commissioner’s office responded stating that the application has been forwarded to the Assistant Executive Engineer, Bangalore South Sub-Division, BDA to initiate action. The BDA engineers categorically rejected the application stating that the lakes do not fall under their jurisdiction.

Activists of the Peoples Campaign for Right to Water had similar experiences. Its state convenor, M Eshwarappa, had lodged a series of complaints with the BMRLPC chairperson regarding Sarakki Lake, Kacharakanahalli Lake, Jakkur Lake, but to no avail.

Eshwarappa said: “The committee is just an eyewash. It has been created only on paper, their visibility in terms of action is nil. It raises doubt over the government's seriousness to discourage lake encroachment.”