Amid the chaos of the Bengaluru anti-encroachment drive, an FIR has been filed against 20 officers and six builders for corruption by the Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force under the direction of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) commissioner Manjunath Prasad.
Prasad, who was part of the meeting of the Joint Committee on Tank Encroachment headed by the speaker K B Koliwad, told India Today in an exclusive interview, ‘It is true that no action was taken since the report was submitted by the lake committee.”
According to the Koliwad report submitted in January this year, 835 lakes are safe in Bengaluru while as many as 645 lakes have been encroached upon.
In a meeting held by the Joint Committee on lake encroachments headed by the speaker K G Koliwad the officials of the BBMP, BDA and the lake development authority were taken to task.
During the meeting, Prasad said they have 75 lakes under BBMP. With the help of Google maps they have been able to identify lakes that are located within the 30-35-metre buffer zone as well as the 30-75 metres buffer zone.
“According to our survey 1,754 buildings are within the 30 to 35 metres zone close to the lakes while 4,200 buildings are within the 30 to 75 metres zone area. These include 50 high-rise buildings and another set of 75 high rise buildings within the 15 metres of lakes. But these are according to the 2007 map that the BBMP drew to identify encroachments. “We will not demolish these buildings, but we have provided the information to the lake committee,” said Prasad.
Interestingly, the Bangalore development authority has 97 Lakes in their jurisdiction. The officials said that while they have mapped buildings encroaching the 30-metre buffer zone, they sought time to submit details on the other zones. The chairman of the joint committee, Koliwad, gave the department time till Wednesday to submit the details.
The encroachment of lakes has become so rampant in Bengaluru Urban and Bengaluru Rural districts that only 166 of the total 1,545 lakes in the two districts are free from encroachments, according to a survey.
These numbers are based on the documents released by the Legislative Assembly Committee on lake encroachments in January this year.
Koliwad committee identified 112 of the total 835 lakes in Bengaluru Urban as dead, which means that they no longer exist and a startling 645 lakes have been encroached upon by builders.
SO WHO ARE THE ENCROACHERS?
A large part of the encroachments have been by land sharks, but many of the lakes have been encroached upon by government agencies themselves. They have cleared lake beds to allow constructions of layouts, construction offices, roads, schools, temples, slums and farms . The BDA is the biggest encroacher among the government agencies. According to the report the BDA has encroached upon 484 acres, covering 41 lakes.
These lakes include Neelasandra, Nagawara, Agara, Ebbaluru, Tavarakere, Thippasandra, Kattriguppe, Madiwala, Ullala and Lingarajapura.
During the meeting Shantinagar MLA NA Haris pulled up the BDA saying “You have swallowed 42 lakes!. We will need to see all the lakes that have been encroached and we want all the documents.’
The BDA official said that they have been fighting in courts that they are disputed sites. But the Commitee said that the BDA needs to be clear whether these building layouts and sites were lakes before and that what case they are contesting in courts.
Names of developers and companies who are under the scanner for lake encroachments are:
*Bagmane Tech Park
*Grass Hopper resorts
*Vandana Sagar apartments
*R K Developers
*B R Valley Park
*Sri Ram apartments
*N D Developers
*Lake view apartments
The chairperson K G Koliwad has said that he will approach the Chief Justice of Karnataka asking the HC not to grant bail on cases of encroachments and also set up a special court to try these cases.