Buffer zone near lake: SC reserves verdict on NGT order

Buffer zone near lake: SC reserves verdict on NGT order

The tribunal's direction for maintaining a buffer zone and green belt of 75-metre in case of lakes, 50-metre for primary, 35-metre for secondary and 25-metre for tertiary 'Rajkulewas' had caused alarm bells ringing in Bengaluru. DH File Photo

The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its judgement on a plea filed by the Karnataka government as well as some real estate developers, challenging the validity of the National Green Tribunal's order enlarging the buffer zone limits around lakes and water bodies in Bengaluru.

A bench of Justices A K Sikri and S Abdul Nazeer and M R Shah wrapped up hearing arguments from all sides, including NGO 'Forward Foundation', on whose plea the NGT had passed its judgement on May 4, 2016.

The tribunal's direction for maintaining a buffer zone and green belt of 75-metre in case of lakes, 50-metre for primary, 35-metre for secondary and 25-metre for tertiary 'Rajkulewas' had caused alarm bells ringing in Bengaluru. The state government claimed that the buffer zone was already fixed in the law and in the 2015 revised master plan as 30-metre.

The state, represented by Advocate General Udaya Holla, contended the order would lead to the demolition of 95 % of buildings and would force the government to pay a compensation of Rs three lakh crore to citizens.

Senior Advocate Sajan Povayya, appearing for the NGO, countered him and submitted that the order by the tribunal would be applicable to the future constructions only. He, however, maintained that the NGT was empowered under the law to issue orders for protecting ecology and environment.

The state, for its part, said the tribunal could never issue orders changing the statutory provisions.

Real estate developers Mantri Techzone and Core Mind, represented by senior advocates  Mukul Rohatgi, N K Kaul, Maninder Singh and R Venkatramani, among others, contended that the tribunal disregarded the environmental clearance granted to their projects under the law.

The state government said the tribunal had granted the relief in the matter which was not even prayed for. The NGO, for its part, said the state of lakes and water bodies had grossly deteriorated in the city, affecting its ecology and environment of the city.

The apex court had earlier in December 2026 stayed the NGT's directions to the extent of Rs 117 crore penalty imposed on Mantri Techzone Pvt Ltd and Rs 13.5 crore on Core Mind Software and Services Pvt Ltd for encroachment of water bodies in Bengaluru. The court had, however, then refused to interfere with other directions by the tribunal.

 

 

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