In what can be considered as necessary step for environmental sustainability, the heavy construction projects that was going around the Agara and Bellandur lakes in Bengaluru have been kept on hold by a judgement of the National Green Tribunal (NGT). It has repealed the clearances and approval plans of the projects that were being carried out over an area of about 32 hectares on a wetland between the two lakes. The NGT has also imposed heavy penalties on them.
The judgement delivered on May 7, has ruled for an increase in the buffer zone or no-construction zone around lakes and wetlands from the earlier 30 metres to 75 metres in the city. The NGT has also ruled that the buffer zone of the water-storm drains must be calculated from the edge of the drain, opposed to the current norm of measuring from the centre of the drain.
The tribunal has levied a fine of Rs 117.35 on Mantri Techzone Private Limited and ordered to demolish the structures already built. A fine of Rs 13.5 crore has also been imposed on Coremind Software Services Private Limited.
The directive issued by the NGT came after a public petition was filed by Forward Foundation, a Bengaluru-based charitable organisation in 2014. The petition submitted a 2013 study made by the Centre of Ecological Sciences, IISc that showed wetland area between Agara and Bellandur lakes had shrunk from 2.8 ha in 2007 to 5.95 ha in 2012.
Here is how the issue unfolded
In 2012, the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB) had anctioned construction work — hotels, residential complexes, malls and a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) park — on the wetlands between Agara and Bellandur Lakes. Atthat time, Mantri Techzone Private Limited and Core Mind Software and Services Private Limited started their construction.
However, the Forward Foundation filed its petition against the constructions in 2014.
In May 2015, The NGT penalised the two companies for constructing in ecologically sensitive area and ordered to submit a report within three months. The Supreme Court also upheld the NGT orders and asked the companies to pay fine. In September, the NGT ordered to stop the project citing that it is a major violation as the region is to be protected as “No Developmental Zone”.
Finally, last Saturday, NGT directed a hold on the construction and ordered demolition of the structures.
Over a decade, Bengaluru is witnessing a massive boom of urbanisation. This has lead to a almost 78 per cent of depletion in the green cover of the city. The lakes in and around Bengaluru which were once a source of pride for the city, have also been reduced to 79 per cent. The pangs of construction works and real estate have been taking a toll on healthy living in the city.
The Logical Indian appreciates the directive taken by the NGT to protect the wetland. It will somehow will able to fend the environmental challenges that is making an impact at a very fast pace.