Karnataka challenges NGT order on buffer zones

Karnataka challenges NGT order on buffer zones

Govt against 75-m limit around lakes

Karnataka challenges NGT order on buffer zones
The Karnataka government on Monday joined builders’ groups in challenging before the Supreme Court the National Green Tribunal's order increasing the no-build buffer zone around lakes in Bengaluru from 30 to 75 metres.

The move comes 11 months after the NGT directions that had upset the real estate sector in the city.

On Monday, the apex court admitted the Karnataka government's plea for consideration.

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta issued notice to NGO 'Forward Foundation' and others on whose plea the green panel had passed its order. 

The state claimed the NGT has not taken into account the buffer zones prescribed in the development control regulations for Mumbai (15 m), Ahmedabad (30m from the riverbank), and Hyderabad (varying with the lake size).

“The NGT has not applied the principle of sustainable development as statutorily recognised in section 20 of the NGT Act, 2010. It has also not considered that the increase of buffer zone to such an extent would have a substantial adverse impact upon the construction activities in Bengaluru without any corresponding and equivalent benefit to the protection of water bodies/lakes in the city,” the state government said in its petition.

The NGT has also ignored the doctrine of “separation of powers” that mandated that a statutory tribunal should not pass judicial orders which directly encroach upon the powers of any other statutory authority on amending buffer zones under the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act, 1961, it added.

A group of builders and others had already approached the apex court against the NGT order of May 4 last year.

The petitioners had contended that the NGT order would result in very expensive land going waste and property prices rising, making small land owners and buyers suffer.

They said the revised Master Plan 2015 provided for buffer zones of 50m, 25m and 15m from the middle of the primary, secondary and tertiary ‘rajakaluves’ or stormwater drains, and 30m from the edge in the case of lakes.

The SC had in August refused to stay the order revising the buffer zone around lakes. But it stayed the order on the Rs 117-crore penalty on Mantri Techzone Pvt Ltd and the Rs 13.5-crore penalty on Core Mind Software and Services Pvt Ltd. On Monday, the bench tagged the Karnataka government's appeal along with similar petitions without any arguments by state's counsel V N Raghupathy.

The state pleaded that before the order was passed, there were more than 21 plans sanctioned by the BDA but awaiting occupancy certificate. The area covered by these sanctions is 95 acres.

Also, there are more than 19 plans sanctioned before NGT order where completion certificate is yet to be granted. This involves about 49 acres.

There are more than 181 layouts and development plans where only the building plan approval is to be granted. Besides, 40 applications were pending for approval of layouts covering 789 acres.

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