The Bellandur Lake Fire matter was taken up for discussion by the tribunal on August 17. When the matter was called out today, the tribunal took note of the wide reportage of what's happening in Bengaluru.

The Tribunal was also of the view that no cloud burst would give rise to froth and smoke.

The state submitted a memo of steps taken by the government pursuant to the orders of the tribunal, whilst seeking more time to file a detailed reply. The state also submitted that the situation was completely unforeseeable for it was a cloud burst. Unconvinced by the memo and the submissions, the Tribunal sought the views of the Namma Bengaluru Foundation (NBF).

The NBF has been assisting the Tribunal regarding the Suo-Moto case on Bellandur Lake Fire by submitting a detailed dossier with pictures of encroachments and dumping of debris and garbage on a regular basis. On August 16, NBF submitted a memo with all the pictures about the frothing due to heavy rain on the early morning of 15th August.

Today, NBF legal team also updated the tribunal regarding the inadequacy of actions taken by the various state agencies on the Bellandur issue and stressed for a detailed affidavit to be placed in front of the court and verified by court appointed commissioner.

Sajan Poovayya, Sr. Adv. appearing for NBF, placed on record a comprehensive list of dates of the entire history of the matter. Along with the list, the counsel of NBF submitted audio-visual material depicting the plight of the citizens.

 The counsel of NBF submitted at length, regarding the complete negligence and disinterest of the State. For, when the NGT had passed certain orders and the HC had stayed the proceedings before the NGT, it were the citizens who petitioned the Supreme Court, whilst the state was hardly bothered to even file an application for vacating of the interim order.

The counsel also placed on record the order of the Supreme Court recording the fact it was distressed with the Karnataka HC. He further submitted that despite a multitude of orders, despite no stay by the Supreme Court in the main matter, the state has done nothing, and now wants more time to file a detailed reply.

Poovayya then went on to submit that if the state is completely uninterested and unconcerned with the safety of citizens and well-being of the environment, the Tribunal should appoint a commissionarate for the implementation of its orders. He refuted the cloud burst theory by drawing the attention of the Tribunal to the fact that no material was forthcoming that the State has done anything in furtherance of the tribunals orders, including the failure of the one-time clean up.

The Tribunal after duly considering such submissions issued three pointed questions to the State, to be answered by August 22, 2017. Further, the Tribunal directed the Additional Chief Secretary, Urban Development Department and the CEO, LDA to be present on the next hearing, i.e., August 22, 2017.

The questions are:

How many rajakaluve have you cleared?

How much waste have you collected from RKs and particularly the Lake? Where have you dumped it?

What are the preventive steps you have taken?

The Tribunal further observed that any answers submitted by the State will be verified by a Court Commissioner to be appointed by the Tribunal.

Sridhar Pabbisetty, CEO, Namma Bengaluru Foundation said, “It’s a good day for the citizens of Bengaluru. NGT has taken cognizance and stepped-in at the right time. Namma Bengaluru Foundation’s resolve to reclaim and protect Bengaluru and its water bodies has been strengthed. Following heavy rains this week, major areas of the city were submerged in a health-risking concoction of rain water and sewage water. Bengalureans were not just faced with dysfunctional storm water drains, but the Bellandur Lake too swelled up with excessive frothing. It is high time the Chief Minister of Karnataka takes cognizance of this looming public health crisis and acts immediately to ensure Bengaluru’s water bodies and the scores of Bengalureans are saved from an environmental disaster.”

Jagadesh Reddy, Member, Varthur Raising said, “The counsel for the state of Karnataka unable to give any justification to the court clearly a reflection of inability of its agencies to fix the daunting issue, although the court had set the timelines to eliminate the root causes, with the current episode of frothing, nothing seem to be appropriate. Court asking UDD & KLCDA chiefs to be present in person signifies what lays ahead. It is clearly evident that the recommendations suggested by the Expert Committee is not being followed and citizens are apprehensive about the funds allocated for cleaning the lake.”