The National Green Tribunal (NGT) constituted committee, headed by Justice N Santosh Hegde, paid a surprise visit to the Varthur Lake on Tuesday.
The committee members were shocked to see the depleted waterbody, which was in stark contrast to the picture painted by the government officials. They were also presented a long list of grievances from citizens living around the lake.
The officials who rushed to the spot, once they learnt of the inspection, cut sorry figures before the committee, when questioned about the state of the lake. Additional chief secretary Mahendra Jain, Bangalore Development Authority commissioner Rakesh Singh and officials from Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board and Minor Irrigation Department were present.
The committee took note of the two kilometre-long road, still existing on the Varthur Lake, near the feeder canal, the pipelines laid inside the lake and other encroachments. “Citizens also pointed out to the committee that the newly constructed sluice gate was affecting the natural flow of water and irrigation,” Justice Hegde told DH.
“The committee’s job is to prepare a report on areas which the departments are not taking action. We have time till June end and we will reach our target. If government lands have been encroached, then stern action will be taken,” he added.
The locals, meanwhile, said the road and the pipeline have not been cleared for more than a year despite NGT orders.
According to Justice Hegde, a detailed inspection report from the rest of the committee members is due, before drawing any inferences.