The Karnataka government is facing the ire of villagers near Shivanahalli Lake after the government’s approval to TajGVK Hotels, a five star hotel group in Yelahanka, Bengaluru, to construct a bridge over the lake. Locals say that the bridge poses a threat to the existence of the lake.
Through an RTI, the villagers collected information about the lake and asked the authorities to take stock of the situation.
Bangalore Mirror reported that the villagers realised that the lake was under threat, after excavated soil was allegedly being dumped on the lake bed.
According to a newspaper report, TajGVK wanted to build a bridge over the lake, which they called a sewage dump, only to gain access to National Highway (NH)-7 (Bellary Road, which connects to the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA).
At present, two pillars and a one-way ramp has come up on the lake. The upcoming hotel project is on survey numbers 49 and 50 of Shivanahalli village.
The government’s approval to the hotel group in 2013 clearly stated that the construction work had to be done without disturbing the water flow, which according to the villagers, was not the case.
BM quoted Jagdesh KN, who is a legal advisor and a resident of Kodigehalli as saying, “I took up the case, went through the legal implications and found that there are several high court and Supreme Court orders that have clearly said that a water body cannot be allowed for any construction. We have written letters to authorities and at one point, work was stopped. But we see that now the construction is on in full swing.”
Another resident of Kodigehalli, V Subramanya, who is also a part of the campaign said, “All the excavated soil was dumped into the lake and now the water body has vanished. There is only a small canal. When rejuvenating the dying water bodies is the need of the hour, here is the government approving the construction of the road on the lake.''
In the Commissioner’s letter to Bangalore urban Deputy Commissioner, he said that it should be left to the government to take a decision, said the BM report.
He wrote: “It is BDA's responsibility to preserve, develop and maintain the said lake. BDA doesn't have powers to take a decision on the application to construct a roadbridge on the lake. BDA also doesn't have powers to approve any construction that changes the formface of a water body. Since the government is the owner of the lake, it is suggested that the sanction be given at the government level.''
In the letter, the DC has stated that the government had given TajGVK Hotels and Resorts Limited the permission to construct a bridge over the lake without disturbing the water flow.
However, TajGVK group said that they would clean and maintain the lake as per the terms of the MOU signed with the BDA, once the project is complete.
BM quoted TajGVK CFO and company secretary J Srinivasa Murthy as saying, “TajGVK is not encroaching the lake as alleged by the local residents. The company has taken the lake on lease to rejuvenate and maintain as per the MOU signed with BDA, as part of our CSR activities. This lake is nothing but a sewage water dump from the upstream neighbourhood. Hence, on the request by BDA, the company has taken this green initiative. The company is constructing the approach road to the site as this landlocked site can only be approached from the NH 7 (Bellary Road which leads to Kempegowda International Airport) as there are no other major access roads to the site. We have received the requisite approvals from the government agencies before commencing the bridge construction. Once the bridge construction is complete, the company shall clean and maintain the lake as per the terms of the MOU signed with the BDA. TajGVK is a responsible corporate citizen and will not do anything contravening the terms of the MOU government approvals.''
This is an aggregated report from Bangalore Mirror.