SC dismisses Karnataka govt plea on Bengaluru lakes

Team Udayavani, Nov 22, 2019, 6:05 PM IST

New Delhi/ Bengaluru: The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a plea filed by the Karnataka government challenging a National Green Tribunal order asking it to deposit Rs 500 crore in an escrow account for failure to check pollution in three lakes in Bengaluru.

The NGT, in its December 6, 2018 order, had observed that there was failure of very high magnitude on the part of the Karnataka government and its authorities, including the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, in protecting the three lakes – Bellandur, Agara and Varthur, and also in keeping the ‘Rajakaluves’ or stormwater drains joining the lakes clean and free from encroachments.

The tribunal had also asked the state government to submit a performance guarantee of Rs 100 crore.

Appearing for the Karnataka government in the apex court on Friday, senior advocate Devadatt Kamat said the state had to make separate budgetary allocation for depositing such a huge amount and that the amount directed to be deposited was neither a fine nor a penalty.

A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justice B R Gavai, however, refused to entertain the plea and dismissed it.

The NGT in its order had earlier said that there is a clear need to require the state and the BBMP to forthwith perform their duties to remedy the situation by preparing the requisite action plan and providing funds.

“In spite of the admitted grave situation, the State/BBMP have not taken any coercive measures against polluters or the concerned officers for their failure. No prosecution is shown to have been launched. No serious steps are shown to have been taken to remedy the situation. Thus, the State and BBMP are also liable to pay compensation for the past failure,” the green bench had said.

The NGT had also formed a committee headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice Santosh Hegde to monitor the cleaning work and removal of encroachments.

“The State of Karnataka will deposit a sum of Rs. 50 crores by way of interim compensation for restoration of the environment with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). BBMP will be required to deposit a sum of Rs 25 crore in this regard to CPCB ,” the tribunal had said.

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