The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Karnataka government why it was bent upon developing industrial areas inside the city of Bengaluru, which was already facing shortage of water and other facilities like roads.
“The special economic zone is not meant for cities. Why does the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board want to create industrial hub inside the city? Where are the roads?” a three-judge bench presided over by Justice A K Sikri asked Karnataka’s Advocate General Udaya Holla.
The court, however, indicated that it would clarify that the task of fixing buffer zones can be left to policy-makers.
The apex court was hearing a batch of petitions challenging the validity of NGT’s principal bench orders of May 4, 2016, for maintaining a buffer zone and green belt of 75 metres in case of lakes, 50 metres for primary, 35 metres for secondary and 25 metres for teritiary ‘Rajakaluves’ in Bengaluru.
The state government maintained that the buffer zone was already fixed in the law as 30 metres.
Holla, for his part, contended the Tech park proposed was not strictly an industrial activity as it would merely house offices with the people working on computers.
“Why don’t you shift those industries to Tumakuru Road,” Justice S Abdul Nazeer further asked, while sitting in the bench, also comprising Justice M R Shah.
The Advocate General submitted that no permission was being granted to set up industries inside the city precincts. “Now, we are asking them to go out,” he said. The top law officer of the state also highlilghted the efforts being undertaken to rejuvenate the lakes.
In his rejoinder arguments, he, however, maintained that even if the National Green Tribunal’s order for revising buffer zone were to be applied for future constructions, it can’t be sustained because it would affect the redevelopment of existing structures in the city.
Senior advocate Sajan Povayya, who resumed his arguments on behalf of NGO ‘Forward Foundation’ on whose the plea the orders were passed by the NGT, contended that the state can’t fight on behalf of real estate developers. He cited the Justice N K Patil Committee report to contend that the larger buffer zone can be created depending upon the size of the lakes. During the hearing, the counsel agreed the task of fixing the buffer zone can be left to the policy makers.
“He (counsel) has made our task easier. We will clarify that the task of fixing buffer zone must be left to the policy makers,” the bench said.
The arguments in the matter remained inconclusive and would continue on Thursday.