[Urbanstudy] KLCDA for declaring 176 ‘live’ lakes in Bengaluru as wetlands

Vinay Baindur yanivbin at gmail.com
Thu Apr 20 04:20:20 CDT 2017

KLCDA for declaring 176 ‘live’ lakes in Bengaluru as wetlands
<http://www.thehindu.com/profile/author/Mohit-M.-Rao/>Mohit M. Rao
BENGALURU APRIL 17, 2017 00:00 IST
UPDATED: APRIL 17, 2017 04:18 IST

Officials hope this will stop ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ encroachment of lakes

After years of judicial pressure, the process to keep the city’s lakes from
the hands of local encroachers and misuse has finally started. The
Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority (KLCDA) has sought
for the declaration of 176 ‘live’ lakes in the city as ‘wetlands’.

Once notified by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) as
wetlands, any changes in the land use of these lakes — such as diversion of
lake land for roads or layouts or any other purpose — can only be done by
through the approval of the Union government. Officials and activists hope
that the added protection on land will stop the continued ‘legal’ and
‘illegal’ encroachment of lakes.

The lakes suggested covers most of the city’s contentious, often polluted
lakes, including Bellandur, Yele Mallappa Shetty, Hebbal, Varthur,
Hulimavu, and Kaidondrahalli, among others. The criteria for the
declaration as per a Supreme Court order in February 2017 was that the lake
should be above 2.25 hectares (or, above 5.5 acres) — or, in short, every
visible lake body in the city. These 176 lakes cover an area of over 9,000
acres, which will be protected under the Wetlands Rules, 2010.

KLCDA had sought for the opinions of the custodians of lakes —Bangalore
Development Authority (BDA), Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and
Forest Department — on the proposal, and with no objections received, the
KLCDA in a letter dated March 31 had recommended the declaration of the
lakes as Wetlands.

The letter comes in the backdrop of a writ petition filed at the Supreme
Court on the status of the country’s wetlands. “A suitable prayer can be
made before the Honorable Supreme Court of India that the State of
Karnataka needs nine months to prepare the ‘Brief Document’ on each wetland
and submit it to the Government of India for further action,” states the
letter, signed by KLCDA CEO G. Vidyasagar, addressed to the Additional
Chief Secretary (Forests, Ecology and Environment).

“We are also looking to declare 92 lakes in 10 urban municipal corporations
across the State. We have asked the authorities to verify each lake, and
then we can forward this to the Centre,” says Mr. Vidyasagar.

‘Important step’

Water conservationist S. Vishwanath called it “an important” step to
protect the lakes. “The Wetland Rules are very stringent, and environmental
protection — whether it is removal of encroachments or stopping sewage
entry — will get legal teeth through this,” he said. The only issue, he
said, was commercial fishing through which many families earn their daily
bread. The Wetland Rules regulates fishing, allowing it only through
consent of State government.
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