The National Green Tribunal (NGT) is extremely dissatisfied with the way the State government handled the cleaning of Bellandur Lake. It took the officials to task and instructed them that an action plan has to be submitted within 10 days on the four aspects that are causing the pollution, reports Kannada Prabha.

The bench headed by Justices Swatanter Kumar, Raghavendra Rathod and expert member Nagin Nanda took up the suo motu case on Bellandur lake along with an application filed by MP Kupendra Reddy and Namma Bengaluru Foundation. The tribunal has sought a report on desilting of lake, removing of municipal wastes, solid wastes, commercial and domestic wastes, the capacity and criteria of the existing and under-installation of effluent treatment plants and also their upgradation to the level specified by Central Pollution Control Board at the apartments surrounding the lake.

The Tribunal has issued orders that State Additional Chief Secretary Mahendrakumar Jain, Karnataka Lake Conservation Development Authority (KLCDA) CEO Seema, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) chief and State Additional Advocate General Adithya Sondhi to give an action plan on these aspects within 10 days, reports Kannada Prabha

The committee consisting of these four officials should personally inspect the lake and its surroundings, and must give accurate and precise information, NGT directed. The tribunal will send a commissioner to cross-check every information provided by the committee and in case any discrepancies, the committee will be held responsible, warned Justice Svatantra Kumar. The case has been posted for next hearing on September 8. All the officials, including Pollution Control Board chairman N Lakshman, who were present at the court, were also asked to be present on the next hearing.

At the commencement of hearing, Additional Advocate General Adithya Sondhi provided details about the action taken to implement the orders of the tribunal. Lake Development Authority CEO Seema said the construction waste around the lake has been removed and efforts are taken to check no municipal waste is dumped in the lake. At this, Justice Swatanter Kumar sought to know if that was true and the officer said in her response. Justice asked her statement to be recorded. "Even if 1 kg of waste is found in the Bellandur lake, she has to face consequence," Justice said. Shocked at this, the officer refused to record her statement. BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad came to her rescue and supported her stating that there was no waste around the lake. When the justice warned that he may lose his service if his statements found to be true, Manjunath Prasad was quick to say that he would verify and submit the information. 

Justice Swatanter Kumar told the officials that the court would ask a commissioner to check if their statement were true. This flustered the officials. Looking at their reaction, Justice Kumar was livid and said "Don't play gimmick here. We will summon the Chief Secretary if need be."

At one stage Justice Swatanter Kumar asked if the Karnataka Pollution Control Board chairman is a technical expert. Responding to that advocate representing MP Kupendra Reddy said that the board chairman was a political appointee. Justice expressed surprise over this. The State advocate responded that he is a civil engineer. Justice sought him to be present at the court in the next hearing.

Advocate Ram Prasad, arguing for Kupendra Reddy said even today 130 million sewage water is let into Bellandur Lake and sought the court direction to divert the sewage flow. However, the State government refuted the charge and said it was impossible to divert the sewage water. Also wherever the water was allowed it would pollute the lake. It takes hundreds of trucks to move and that creates pollution of another sort, the officials submitted. The Tribunal had instructed the State government to set up STP by December. Senior advocate Sajjan Poovayya said though several apartments around the lake do have STPs, they are not being utilised, reports Kannada Prabha.

MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar has said that the absolute negligence of the State government with regard to the implementation of the NGT orders has been exposed today. The heads of Lake Conservation and Development Authority have hesitated to support the claims made by the counsel for State. This is an indication of how Siddaramaiah government is functioning. It is the habit of Siddaramaiah government to ignore important issues.