NGT rebukes govt for 'doing nothing' to avert fire in Bellandur Lake

NGT rebukes govt for 'doing nothing' to avert fire in Bellandur Lake

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has censured the Karnataka government for failing to take any steps on the ground to check the incidents of fire in Bellandur Lake, the largest waterbody in  Bengaluru.  

On Wednesday, a  bench headed by Justice U D Salvi asked the authorities led by Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) Commissioner Rakesh Singh, who was personally present, to explain what actions had been taken on the ground as per their plan.

"For the last three years, you are all saying that you have prepared an action plan. Where are (the) actions as per your action plan? What you did all these years," the bench demanded.

The tribunal, which is hearing the matter  on its own, directed the authorities  to come up with a specific roadmap to protect the lake from such fires.

At the hearing, the BDA commissioner, represented by advocate Devraj Ashok, submitted that fire had broken out in the lake five times due to dry grass and leaves. "We are preparing an action plan to remove grass leaves and curb such incidents of fire," he added.

Appearing for D Kupendra Reddy, a JD(S) member of the  Rajya Sabha, advocate P Ram Prasad said the High Court of Karnataka and the NGT had earlier appointed two officers - Mahendra K Jain and T M Vijay Bhashkar - who gave a report recommending the fencing of the lake and installing CCTV cameras around it. But nothing has been done, he claimed.

"If there are CCTV cameras, then it should not be difficult to ascertain if the fire was  the result of dry grass or chemical reaction due to the dumping of waste materials," he contended.

The counsel sought  the tribunal's directions for sending  a team of experts to conduct a spot assessment of the situation. He urged the bench to consider an application filed in this regard on May 17, 2017.

The bench  put the matter as well as the application for consideration on January 29.

Taking a serious note of the fire in the lake on January 19, the tribunal had earlier summoned the state officials, including the additional secretary of the urban development department, on Wednesday. The official was, however, reported to be abroad.  

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