CAG raps State government for failing to protect lakes

'Water quality of lakes surveyed does not conform to prescribed standards'

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has slammed the State government for its failure to protect and conserve lakes in the State, including those in Bengaluru.

The performance audit on “Conservation and ecological restoration of lakes under the jurisdiction of Lake Development Authority and urban local bodies” for the period 2009-2014, the national auditor has found 47 of the 56 test-checked lakes severely polluted. The performance audit covered 56 lakes, including 36 coming under the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA).

Water quality of none the lakes conformed to the prescribed standards. Efforts to reduce the pollution by checking the flow of sewage were inadequate. Interestingly, the emphasis of the implementing agencies was seen to focus more on engineering measures rather than ecological preservation and restoration of the lakes.

“Works like de-silting were carried out excessively and without justification. Instead of prioritising core works for lake rejuvenation, non-core works were given undue significance,” the report tabled in the Legislative Assembly stated.

A comparative study of lakes area for 33 test-checked lakes showed reduction in lake areas due to construction of roads, residential layouts and change in land use. In several instances, lake areas were granted to various government bodies and private parties. The implementing agencies had taken up development works in an ad hoc manner without any coordination.

Moreover, there were no consistency in lake areas in records maintained by various government agencies, the report said.

The report said the Revenue Department had failed to carry out its responsibilities related to conducting surveys and removing encroachments in lakes. The implementing agencies lacked database on encroachments and hence the work of removal of encroachment was only partial.

“The encroachment of lake area caused choking /blocking of catchment drains, loss of foreshore area and wetland, thereby leading to shrinkage in water spread area,” it added.

Besides, the report said none of the 56 lakes had buffer zones and there were instances wherein layouts had come up within the buffer zone. This despite claims by various implementing agencies of having taken measures to preserve the biodiversity of the lakes.

The institutional mechanism for conservation and restoration was weak and the community participation in this regard inadequate. The Lake Development Authority failed to initiate measures for an integrated approach in planning and prioritisation of lakes for restoration, the report added.

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