In a big relief to owners of individual houses and apartments located on lake land in Bengaluru, a Legislative Assembly committee on lake encroachments on Tuesday recommended to the government not to evict them.
The panel has suggested that the government explore the possibility of either issuing ownership rights after imposing penalties or leasing out properties if the chance of reviving the lakes are bleak and if the water bodies have completely lost their original features. Otherwise, action should be taken to evict all encroachers. All cases of encroachments should be looked into on a case-to-case basis and appropriate action should be taken, the report, tabled in the Assembly, stated.
The committee has recommended demolition of commercial buildings if the lakes can be revived.
For layouts formed by the government agencies like the Bengaluru Development Authority and the Karnataka Housing Board on lakes, the panel has recommended that lake development cess be imposed on the property owners and declare encroached portions of the lakes as "dead lakes".
"It is not proper to evict them (those living in individual houses, flats, group houses, apartments and gated community). They are not actually at fault.
They will become homeless if they are evicted," the 10-member committee headed by Assembly Speaker K B Koliwad stated in the report. About 5,000 acres of lake land have been encroached by individual houses and apartments, according to the report.
Action against builders
However, the panel has recommended that stringent action be taken against owners of multi-storey buildings, big builders and developers who have encroached lakes in Bengaluru Urban and Bengaluru Rural districts. It asked the government to file cases against them in special courts set up to try cases of government land grabbing, besides forfeiting their properties.
But the report has not defined apartments, gated community and multi-storey buildings, making it tough for the government to implement it.
The committee, set up in 2014, has surveyed all 1,545 lakes in the two districts to identify enroachments.