The National Green Tribunal has directed authorities to ensure closure of 76 polluting industries around Bengaluru’s Bellandur lake. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar directed the city’s Deputy Commissioner and the authorities concerned to ensure immediate disconnection of water and electricity supply to these industries. It also directed that housing societies and residential complexes near the lake will have STPs working within the prescribed parameters, failing which their power and water supply will be snapped too. The Tribunal’s attention was drawn to the issue in February when reports and photographs appeared of a fire in a mound of garbage near the Bengaluru lake.
“The state pollution control board shall exercise its power vested under Section 33A of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 read with Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and to seize the industries, if the need arise,” the bench said. The green panel directed the joint inspection team comprising officials from Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board and the state pollution control board to jointly inspect all sewage treatment plants (STPs) that have been installed by housing societies and residential complexes near the lake.
“The STPs which are not operating, they shall give a time-bound programme to bring the parameters within the prescribed limit, failing which the electricity and water supply should be disconnected to such complexes. However, reasonable time should be granted to them to comply with the prescribed parameters,” the bench said. It directed immediate removal of municipal solid waste and construction debris, which has been dumped into the lake, under the supervision of the Committee appointed by the tribunal.
“The report also be submitted in regard to the middle scale industries where they are involved in any polluting activity,” the bench said while fixing the case for hearing on July 13. Slamming the local civic bodies for inaction, the bench had banned dumping of any kind of municipal solid waste around the lake and announced an environment compensation of Rs 5 lakh on anyone found dumping waste in and around the lake.
Earlier, the NGT had lashed out at the Karnataka government and its agencies responsible for maintenance of the Bellandur lake, asking them why they should not be prosecuted for negligence. It had earlier issued notice to the Union Environment Ministry, the Karnataka government, Lake Authority of Bangalore, state pollution control board and Central Pollution Control Board in the case.
On February 20, the NGT had taken suo motu cognisance of media reports and photographs of the incident in which a fire broke out in the Bengaluru lake. “It is reported that there were thick clouds of smoke which severely hit traffic and people living around the lake. It is also reported that usually a pile of garbage around the lake is set on fire and there was total panic.
“Undoubtedly, such emissions are bound to be have an adverse impact on environment, ecology and human health. It is a matter which requires serious investigation, remedial measures and restoration of the lake to its original wholesome status,” it had said. Thick clouds of white smoke persisted in the air around Bellandur Lake after the blaze.