Watchdog committees to stem further decay of lakes

Watchdog committees to stem further decay of lakes

The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) has decided to set up lake protection watchdog committees across the City, involving local residents as stakeholders.

The role and responsibilities of the committees have not been chalked out so far. But in broader terms, they will offer suggestions and participate in proceedings related to individual lakes in Bengaluru.

As a first step to form the committees, the Board has zeroed in on individuals who have been fighting for protecting lakes in their neighbourhood. Further, officials of government agencies which are custodians of lakes will be taken on the panel. There will be meetings of these committees at regular intervals and polluters of tanks will be issued directions. Copies of the communication, in turn, will be circulated among stakeholders, including individuals and residents’ welfare associations (RWAs). Having formed a committee successfully for Madivala lake with wing commander (retired) G B Athri as one of the members, KSPCB has started forming committees for other tanks too.

On Wednesday, KSPCB officials visited many tanks in Bengaluru South, including Gowdanapalya, Dorekere, Uttarahalli and Subramanyapura tanks. The Board intends to shortly form committees for Sarakki, Puttenahalli, Gottigere, Halage Vaderahalli, Hosakerehalli and Arehalli lakes, said sources.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, KSPCB chairperson Vaman Acharya said, “The tank protection watchdog committee does not have any constitutional validity. It is only a social action to involve people. We are involving concerned citizens, RWAs and NGOs. The panel will have BBMP engineers, officers of the Lake Development Authority, Bangalore Development Authority and KSPCB officers, totalling five to six members. This committee cannot order demolition of buildings. It can only watch and report to us, whenever they come across incidents like dumping of debris, sewage and blockage of sewage leading to its leakage into tanks. Athri has held the KSPCB accountable for tanks in the City as well as the State.

He said, “As per Section 17 of the Water Act, the sole objective of pollution control boards across the country is to ensure that all water bodies are protected. This Act is as powerful as the Indian Penal Code. Tragically, successive KSPCB chairpersons did not exercise their powers vested in them under the Water Act, which led to the cumulative disaster of lakes in the City. Today, most of the lakes here have disappeared, while water in 180 existing lakes is not fit for any use.”

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