Govt plans to give up control over degraded water bodies

Govt plans to give up control over degraded water bodies

Govt plans to give up control over degraded water bodies
The state government has prepared a proposal to give up its control and ownership of parts of lakes, ponds and other water bodies that have dried up and lost their original features.

The government is proposing to bring in suitable amendments to the Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964, in this regard. Revenue Department Principal Secretary E V Ramana Reddy on April 22 dispatched letters to the finance, urban development, rural development and panchayat raj, minor irrigation, law, forest and ecology departments seeking their opinion.

According to official sources, the finance and law departments have given their go-ahead for the proposal, while the RDPR department has opposed the move.  Response from other departments is awaited after which the proposal will be placed before the state Cabinet, the sources said.

The sources pointed out that the National Green Tribunal has ordered that all encroachment on lakes be cleared, illegal structures demolished and steps taken to revive the water bodies. However, the order was practically impossible to implement as buildings, bus stations and even stadia have come up in parts of water bodies that have dried up and have long lost their original character. Declassifying dried up water bodies is considered the best solution, the sources added.

The plan is to bring in an amendment to Section 68 of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act.  The section states that all public roads, streets, lanes and paths, bridges, ditches, dikes and fences, creeks below high water mark and of rivers, streams, nallas, lakes and tanks and all canals and water-courses and all lands which are not the property of individuals, belong to the state government. The said land cannot be used for any other purpose, the section states. It is this portion that the government wants to amend to ease the norms.

If the proposal is implemented,  it could come as a blessing to those who have built their houses on lake beds that have lost their original identity.  A legislature committee headed Speaker K B Koliwad is preparing a report on the encroachment of 1,545 lakes surveyed in Bengaluru Urban and Bengaluru Rural districts.

In several pockets, the encroachment is on water bodies that have lost their original identity. The report is yet to be tabled in the legislature.