Loss of face awaits govt in Bellandur Lake case

The fire on Friday at Bellanindur lake only makes matters worse for the state government with the National Green Tribunal.

"We will bring it to the NGT's notice at the next hearing," said Sridhar Pabbisetty, petitioner in a case concerning the lake. On January 5 and 18, the tribunal had discussed the lake's conditions.

"The government has shown no interest in protecting the lake. No short-term measure has been implemented, except one-time cleaning of the lake," he said.

The authorities are only buying time and not showing results on the ground, Pabbisetty said. T V Ramachandra, member of the lake expert committee and professor at the Indian Institute of Science, said he had submitted his observations to Pabbisetty.

"Lake quality has not improved. The government has no responsibility. The grass around the lake is dry and the methane just aggravated the fire. This shows that the lake is highly polluted," he said.

Ramachandra had suggested to the BDA and lake expert committee that the waterbody should be handed over to the Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority as other agencies had proven incapable of handling the challenges. Pabbisetty said the government was not keeping to deadlines. "They have said sewage treatment plants will come up. But there is nothing on the ground," he said.

It is now up to the government to explain to the tribunal why another fire had broken out, he remarked.

Ramachandra said that the government had still not been able to clear encroachments and prevent garbage dumping.

However, G Ranga Rao, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board member, said the water quality had improved in the lake as some industries and apartment complexes had stopped releasing sewage into the lake. Frothing has also come down, by his reckoning.

'Security guards for lake'

Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority chief executive officer Seema Garg, who had admitted before the NGT that solid waste was still being dumped in the lake, said the BDA should deploy guards to protect the waterbody.

"The fire could be intentional or accidental. Fencing everywhere is not possible because of the topography, so there is need for guards around the lake," she said. Meanwhile, BDA commissioner Rakesh Singh said, "We have decided to get a detailed study done on the fire to understand the nature of the pollutants."

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