As the one-month deadline for diverting the sewage flowing into Bellandur Lake approaches, the National Green Tribunal, on Thursday told the KSPCB that merely issuing notices to industries is not enough.
The tribunal directed the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board to close the industries around Bellandur Lake.
The court also directed the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), Bangalore Water Supply & Sewerage Board (BWSSB) and KSPCB to “stop wasting time on drafting 100-100 page reports and inspect the industries instead”.
The KSPCB told the NGT that 76 out of the 97 industries in the lake's vicinity had been issued closure notices.
Pointing out the provisions under Section 33 A of the Water Act and Section 5 of the Environment Protection Act, NGT told KSPCB it has the power to inspect, shut down and seal the polluting units.
The tribunal said it expected the board to close them when it passed the order on April 19.
The NGT directed the Joint Investigation Team comprising officials from the KSPCB, BDA and BWSSB to ask all the industries to install Effluent Treatment Plants.
“If industries do not comply within reasonable time, disconnect their electricity and water supply and seal the polluting industries,” the NGT order states.
The Tribunal also asked the electricity and water supply of the apartments and residential complexes around Bellandur Lake to be cut, if they don’t install Sewage Treatment Plants (STP) within a given timeframe.
As per the directions by the Tribunal, the KSPCB must collect samples from the existing STPs and get it inspected by Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru and submit its report by July 13.
The NGT directed the KSPCB to obtain the exact measurement of each drain, its quantum and quality in all 17 inlets of Bellandur lake, the actual details about level of Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) and other capacities of STPs as per the parameters prescribed by Central Pollution Control Board, to count the number of buildings, apartments, complexes located in Bellandur Lake vicinity and to obtain the complete record of waste (both MSW and C&D) extracted from Bellandur Lake.
The government, however, sought more time to implement the previous order, in which the tribunal had ordered the government to shut down polluting industries, deweed and desilt the lake and check sewage inflow.
“Some of the industries have stopped operations. Inspections will begin from Friday and we have written to the deputy commissioner of Bengaluru Urban and also the police commissioner. We will be accompanied by police officers and will seal the units if they are functioning despite the closure notice,” said KSPCB chairperson, Lakshman.
NS Mukunda, Founding President, Citizens’ Action Forum said, “NGT is very clear that the government should stop working on report and start working to clean up the lakes. The Government should come out with a Master Plan for all the lakes in Bengaluru and conduct surveys to fix boundaries of lakes as well as its buffer zones so that there are no encroachments and also, declare the area as the heritage land. I personally feel that the interconnection of the lakes should be restored and BWSSB should take actions on stopping the flow of sewage into the lakes.”
“Its good that NGT has given some strict and specific directions to the State Government, but my only worry is that it is not the industries or the apartments that are polluting the Bellandur Lake. The flow of sewage into Bellandur Lake is not a local issue but a systemic issue because it is the sewage from other parts of Bengaluru that is flowing into the lake. Unless BWSSB takes necessary steps to treat sewage, this issue will not be resolved,” said civic activist, Prakash Belawadi.