K’taka HC orders formation of panel for constant monitoring of storm water drains in Bengaluru


PTI, Dec 8, 2023, 8:10 PM IST

The Karnataka High Court has directed the constitution of a committee that would constantly monitor the storm water drains (SWDs) in Bengaluru particularly during the rainy season. It said the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) should conduct a detailed hydrological survey and if necessary, acquire land for formation of new SWDs.

The order of a single judge bench of the HC came on a batch of three petitions filed by Avenue Supermarts Ltd which owns the D Mart brand of stores. The company had challenged three notices issued to it by the BBMP alleging encroachment of SWD on a plot in Ammani Byrathi Khane Village, KR Puram, Bengaluru where it was undertaking a construction.

The HC quashed the notices after it found that the BBMP did not have any documents to sustain its claim that 9 ‘guntas’ out of the said land was ‘Rajakaluve’ (SWD). The BBMP counsel tried to convince the court that it was in fact ‘Haddigidada Halla’ (water course). But, the HC pointed out that even if it was ‘Haddigidada Halla’ which was classified as ‘Kharab’ land earmarked for public use, it should have been marked as ‘B Kharab’ land in records but it was not so.

According to the Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964, any piece of open land which cannot be used for farming or cultivation when the land survey was conducted is classified as Kharab land.

Moreover, prior to the plan sanction given to the company for construction, an inspection was carried out by the Chief Engineer of the SWD department of the BBMP which said there was no ‘Rajakaluve’ or ‘Water Feed Canal’ on the property.

In its judgement on November 23, the bench of Justice Suraj Govindaraj said, “It is for the BBMP to conduct a detailed hydrological survey and survey of all storm water drains in and around the area to ascertain the cause of blockage of water and not to seek to contend that the petitioner has blocked the drain in his property when the records do not indicate the existence of any such drain.”

Considering the perennial nature of the problem, the court said, “It would be required that a proper monitoring system of the drains constructed by the BBMP is maintained. The details of the drains are uploaded on the website of the BBMP with maintenance details being uploaded from time to time including the amount of silt accumulated and/or removal of silt from such drains.” Therefore, the HC suggested the formation of a committee for monitoring of SWDs in Bengaluru. “The Chief Commissioner of the BBMP along with other stakeholders like the Principal Secretary, Revenue Department, Principal Secretary, Urban Development Department, Principal Secretary, Gram Panchayat are directed to look into the matter. The Chief Secretary, Government of Karnataka is directed to constitute a committee comprising the above officers and such other officers as he deems fit to have a constant monitoring of the storm water drains more particularly in the rainy season in Bangalore,” it said.

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