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After HC order, govt tells ULBs to remove lake encroachments

The order from the Urban Development Department comes in the wake of a direction by the Karnataka High Court on July 14, 2021
Last Updated : 11 August 2021, 22:49 IST
Last Updated : 11 August 2021, 22:49 IST
Last Updated : 11 August 2021, 22:49 IST
Last Updated : 11 August 2021, 22:49 IST
Last Updated : 11 August 2021, 22:49 IST
Last Updated : 11 August 2021, 22:49 IST

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The state government on Wednesday told all municipalities and corporations to start removing encroachment on water bodies, including the structures that have come up on the 30-metre buffer zone.

The order from the Urban Development Department comes in the wake of a direction by the Karnataka High Court on July 14, 2021. It cited the obligatory functions of the officials to protect the water bodies under different laws for municipalities, corporations and the BBMP and cited the KTCDA Act 2014 that bars any construction activity in the 30 metre buffer zone.

The order, however, falls short of ordering a survey or fixing a deadline for reclaiming the government land. Last month, the high court had noted that out of 39,179 lakes, survey of only 17,009 lakes has been completed and directed officials to resume the process.

"We direct the state government to issue specific directions to all concerned officers including the Deputy Commissioners to commence the work of survey of lakes and buffer zones under their respective jurisdiction. We again reiterate that survey has to be of the lakes as well as its thirty meters buffer zones," the order had said.

To a question, Additional Chief Secretary of Urban Development Department Rakesh Singh said a deadline for survey water bodies and recovery of encroached land will be fixed in the coming days.

"That will be done in consultation with the Revenue Department. Multiple agencies are involved in removing of encroachments and all the stakeholders have to agree on the deadline," he said.

Sources said the department was wary of ruffling the feathers of the political leaders.

"In urban areas, encroachment has the backing of political leaders who also face charges of land grabbing. In the case of poor people living on such land, we have to tread cautiously. The Wednesday order is essentially acknowledging the high court order," he said.

In prime places like Bengaluru, evicting encroachers has become a Herculean task. As per a survey by the Bangalore Urban district administration, 4,500 acre of land belonging 837 lakes in the district has been encroached.

Over the last one month, officials have recovered about 180 acre belonging to more than 75 lakes. Officials said the drive will continue in the coming days.

In BBMP, Special Commissioner (Lakes) B Reddy Shankar Babu said an action plan has to be chalked out to recover the lake land.

"There are a number of properties that come under the purview of the UDD order. The BBMP will have to survey and identify the properties and chalk out an action plan," he added.

A senior official said thousands of properties have to be demolished if the order is implemented.

"There are thousands of properties built within 30 metres of a water body even after that area was declared a buffer zone. They have obtained all the permissions and sanctions from the BBMP. In addition, those properties built before declaration of buffer zone but without the required permissions are also illegal. The town planning department has to be held responsible and a future course of action has to be decided," he said.

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Published 11 August 2021, 19:33 IST

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