Finally, some serious thought to protecting water bodies

Government tables bill on Lake Conservation Authority for cities

Finally, some serious thought to protecting water bodies

The Forest and Revenue departments will soon embark on a joint survey of lakes and tanks in urban areas of the State.

The drive, with its focus on the water bodies of Bengaluru, involves identifying their boundaries to protect, preserve and develop at least 840 of them in the ‘Garden City’.

The recently tabled Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority Bill, 2014, once cleared, will set the ball rolling for the joint survey. The Forest department tabled the Bill at the Belagavi legislature session.

Sources in the Forest department said that as per the initial plans, the department will set up the head office of the Authority in Bengaluru and open divisional offices across the State. With 11 city Corporations, including BBMP, under the purview of the proposed authority, it is said that there will be separate staff for protecting and preserving the lakes.

Estimates for manpower are placed at four executive engineers and eight assistant executive engineers for developing lakes, an assistant commissioner rank officer to head the revenue wing of the Authority and a police wing to initiate anti-encroachment drives and evict the encroachers.

The rank of the officer to head the police wing is yet to be decided. Support staff for all the wings will be appointed through deputation from various government departments. Though the Bill has not been cleared by Governor Vajubhai Vala and the State Cabinet, it has received special attention from Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. It is said that the Forest department prepared and printed the legislation in less than 72 hours for tabling it.

However, due to financial implications in the Bill, a debate was not considered in the legislature. For any Bill with financial implications, the Governor’s assent is mandatory. Sources in the Forest department said that it was keen on introducing the Bill much earlier. But it was objected to by the Law department. Reason: A previously cleared bill for lakes and tanks under the Minor Irrigation department had a similar name: Karnataka Lake Development Authority Bill, 2014. Hence, changes were incorporated in the proposed Bill.

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