Bengaluru: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday ordered the immediate closure of all industrial units in the vicinity of the polluted and frothing Bellandur lake and placed restrictions on any dumping of waste around it.
The order follows months of protests by citizen groups for immediate government action to clean up the lake, one of Bengaluru’s largest and an eyesore for people living in the neighbourhood and those crossing it.
The tribunal held the chiefs of the Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority (KLCDA), Bengaluru Development Authority (BDA) and Urban Development Department “personally responsible" for implementing its orders.
The NGT orders came a day after the tribunal, hearing about the toxic foam on Bellandur, pulled up the Karnataka government for its apathy in letting untreated sewage flow into the lake.
The tribunal said no waste of any kind shall be dumped into the lake or in the prescribed buffer zone and any violator would be fined Rs5 lakh.
The NGT directed state authorities to undertake a one-time clean-up of Bellandur to de-silt the lake, remove waste and chemicals from its surface within a month.
Citizen groups are sceptical if the authorities have the political will to implement the orders. Kshitij Urs, professor of public policy law at National Law School and a member of a people’s campaign for right to water, noted that many earlier orders had not been adhered to by the authorities, inviting contempt charges.
The state government is looking to float a tender worth several thousand crore to rejuvenate the lake, which environmentalists say could be the main intention behind official apathy towards the lake.
The nearly 800 acre lake, which was in the 1970s a source of drinking water and irrigation for surrounding villages, has now become an outlet for sewage drains from nearby residences, apartment complexes, commercial and industrial establishment, making it frothy and toxic. According to submissions by the Karnataka civic authorities, nearly 500 MLD (million litres per day) of sewage water is discharged into the lake.