20,000 acres of lake land encroached in state: survey

The survey was commissioned last year following an announcement in the 2017-18 budget by then Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. DH File Photo

Over 20,000 acres of lake land - roughly the size of many football fields - are encroached in the state, an ongoing government survey has revealed. 

This includes more than 3,500 acres of lakes under encroachment in and around Bengaluru. Authorities have done little, however, to clear the encroachments. 

The survey was commissioned last year following an announcement in the 2017-18 budget by then Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. The government earmarked Rs 10 crore to survey all water bodies in the state by forming district-level task forces headed by deputy commissioners.  

Hassan district, where Public Works Minister H D Revanna hails from, has the highest number of lakes - 6,641. Only 463 of them have been surveyed so far, revealing encroachments in 268 water bodies. 

The Bengaluru Urban district administration has finished surveying all 837 water bodies. Of this, authorities found that 744 lakes were encroached upon, spanning 4,535 acres. Till date, the district machinery has recovered 2,036 acres of the 380 lakes that were under encroachment and the rest - 2,499 acres - remain encroached.

This is according to data compiled by the Karnataka Public Lands Corporation (KPLC), an agency tasked with protecting the government’s immovable assets.

Major encroachers

Major encroachers in Bengaluru include individual houses and apartments located on lake land. But a Legislative Assembly committee on lake encroachments, in its report November last, recommended to the government not to evict them. That leaves small sheds and empty plots which have come up on lake land.

A senior official from the Revenue department said this was yet another lake survey that may not result in any eviction.

But, Bengaluru Urban Deputy Commissioner B M Vijay Shankar conceded the lag in encroachment removal.

“That’s because I’m just three months old in this post and I’ve not yet started looking at the encroachment files,” he said.

Action plan

“But we are chalking out an action plan to take up anti-encroachment drives.” The next drive, he said, has been planned near HSR Layout. Asked about the encroachers, Shankar said, “I can’t share details till I visit the sites myself.”

That the district administration has plans to take up encroachment clearance drives starkly contrasts Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s stand. On Tuesday, he said the government would not clear storm water drain encroachments - a major issue in the flood-prone city - as it was a “sensitive issue.”

The Department of Survey, Settlement and Land Records (SSLR) is aiding the survey. “One surveyor will survey one lake a month. We have 2,000 surveyors, who will cover 24,000 lakes in a year,” SSLR commissioner Munish Moudgil said.

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20,000 acres of lake land encroached in state: survey

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