‘While 500 acres of tanks are encroached, funds have also been siphoned in the name of rejuvenation’
The former Chief Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) Floor leader in the Assembly H.D. Kumaraswamy on Friday demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the massive encroachment of tanks in Bangalore, and the alleged siphoning of funds in the guise of their rejuvenation.
Participating in a debate in the Assembly on the demand for grants for various departments, Mr. Kumaraswamy alleged that more than 500 acres of tanks in Bangalore had been encroached upon by land sharks by making fake documents in collusion with officials.
The extent of all the government land encroached upon in Bangalore was 60,000 acres, worth around Rs. 2 lakh crore, he said.
Alleging that “powerful politicians and big builders” were among those who had encroached tanks in the name of “bogus” persons, he said only a CBI inquiry could help nail the land sharks.
He expressed concern that despite a high-power committee, headed by former bureaucrat Lakshman Rau, recommending various measures for protecting the tanks in 1985 itself, the government had not taken them seriously. Garbage and debris were being dumped into most of the tanks, besides letting sewerage water into it, he said.
He recalled that a part of Bhyrasandra lake had been encroached by a builder who had pledged it in a bank to get loans. The encroachment had come to light only when the bank came to auction the mortgaged land when the builder failed to repay the loan.
Though the government records indicated that it had spent Rs. 214 crore on the rejuvenation of tanks, not even Rs. 20 crore had been spent, Mr. Kumaraswamy alleged.
He warned the government that ignoring the protection of tanks and their encroachments would have a serious impact on the environment, as well as to the drinking water situation in Bangalore. Pointing out that the government was trying to divert 10 tmcft of Cauvery water from irrigation to the drinking water supply for Bangalore as nearly 75 per cent of areas in Bangalore were yet to get Cauvery water, he said this would mean that one lakh farmers would be deprived of irrigation facilities. “But it is possible to manage drinking water situation in the city by rejuvenating the tanks as they help in recharging groundwater,” he said.
He also urged the government to strengthen the Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force in a bid to tackle land sharks.