Bengaluru: Conservationists working on saving wetlands hope that the new Legislature Committee, formed by the government to prepare a report on encroachment of water bodies in the city, will recommend strict action against encroachers.
The government has constituted the committee headed by Mr K.B. Koliwad, MLA from Ranebennur, with 10 other MLAs as members. The committee has convened its first meeting on November 12.
Mr Koliwad told media that suggestions from wetland experts and members of former Legislature Committees will be taken while preparing the report.
In the last ten years, over five reports on lake encroachments have been prepared, which not only detail the extent of encroachment of lakes in the city, but also the culprits who have encroached upon these water bodies. But sadly, not a single culprit has landed behind bars.
Though the Karnataka High Court Green Bench mandates protection of lakes, several lake encroachers have managed to get stays from the High Court.
Though the Revenue Department has been given the authority of protecting the lakes by the high court, the department has not initiated action against any of the encroachers.
Former Additional Chief Secretary V. Balasubramanian said that the prosecution of encroachers is the only way to deter people from grabbing lake lands.
“In 2005, an amendment was brought to the Karnataka Land Revenue Act.
Section 192 A states that encroachers of any government land, including wetlands, would face maximum imprisonment of three years.
Government officials who are responsible for encroachments will also get the same treatment. Prosecution in encroachment cases is the most important tool to stop people from grabbing wetlands,” he said.
Mr Balasubramanian, who has worked on a report on lake encroachments in Bengaluru Urban district, noted that nearly 2,500 acres of the total 25,000 acres of watershed area have been encroached.
“The survey lists 937 lakes in Bengaluru Urban district, along with its village name, survey numbers and the extent of water bodies.
The survey records the extent of encroachments as well as the list of people who have grabbed government water bodies,” he noted.