The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a plea filed by the Karnataka government challenging a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order asking it to deposit Rs 500 crore in an escrow account for failing to check pollution and encroachment of Bellandur Lake.
The lake had become so toxic that it emitted clouds of white froth.
A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justice B R Gavai rejected the petition against the December, 2018 NGT order which had also asked the state government to submit a performance guarantee of Rs 100 crore.
Senior advocate Devadatt Kamat, representing Karnataka, questioned the validity of the directions, saying the state had to make separate budgetary allocation for depositing such huge sums. He relied upon a previous SC order which had relaxed similar directions to Meghalaya government to deposit Rs 100 crore.
The court remained unimpressed. “We won't interfere,” it said.
The green panel had expressed unhappiness over encroachments on stormwater drains and set up a committee headed by former Supreme Court Judge Justice Santosh Hegde to oversee restoration works of Bellandur Lake.
It had asked the state government to keep Rs 500 crore in an escrow account to implement an action plan to rejuvenate the water body.
On a plea by Rajya Sabha MP D Kupendra Reddy, the NGT had also directed Karnataka to pay Rs 50 crore to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPWD) and asked the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to deposit Rs 25 crore.
Karnataka should pay another Rs 100 crore if it failed to implement the plan, it had said.
State's plea in SC
* After NGT directions, 60% lake restoration work completed under the aegis of Justice Santosh Hegde Committee. Full restoration will approximately take a year
* The steps taken so far include the construction of a 150 MLD (million litres per day) STP at the cost of Rs 297 crore. 66% work as against a target of 70% completed. Target to be met by July 30, 2020
* No froth formation at present due to construction of diversion channels
* 7.86 km of fencing of lake completed
* One km fencing required after the eviction of Ambedkar Nagar slum inhabitants which is under process
* To reduce froth formation and regulate flood, sluice gates constructed at a cost of Rs 14 crore at Bellandur waste weir and Yamlur waste weir.
* CCTV network in place to monitor dumping of waste into the lake bed. Marshals deployed to guard and monitor 24/7; watchtowers under construction