NGT summons state officials over Bellandur Lake fire

Last Updated 22 January 2018, 19:27 IST

The National Green Tribunal on Monday pulled up the Karnataka government for the massive fire that raged in Bellandur Lake last weekend.

A bench headed by Justice U D Salvi asked what steps the government had taken to protect the Bengaluru lake, where at least three fires had broken out earlier.

Taking a serious view of the January 19 fire, the tribunal directed state officials, including the additional secretary of urban development, to appear before it on January 24.

"Why no action has been taken since 2015 when the tribunal started examining suo motu the matter pertaining to the lake?" the bench said.

Advocate Ram Prasad, appearing for petitioner Kupendra Reddy, contended the state had submitted four reports - listing steps it intended to take - but had done little on the ground.

Advocate Devraj Ashok, representing the state government, said the fire was a result of miscreants burning dry leaves and grass. He said the government would submit details after conducting a proper inquiry. He sought time till January 29, the next date of hearing, to file a report on what had caused the fire.

Senior advocate Sajan Poovayya, appearing for NGO Namma Bengaluru Foundation, said firefighters and about 5,000 army personnel had been called in to douse the fire. The government has failed to protect the lake, he told the court.

A fire that broke out on Friday at 9.30 am continued into Saturday. Black smoke was billowing from the lake for hours after the flames were extinguished on Saturday.

The blaze in the highly polluted water body gave anxious moments to hundreds of residents living nearby.

The fire spread towards the Iblur firing range of the army.

A report attributed the fire to a methane burst caused by accumulation of chemicals and pollutants in the lake. The BDA said grass harvesters could have accidentally started the fire.

(Published 22 January 2018, 18:58 IST)

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