The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed an interim penalty of Rs 10 lakh on the Karnataka government over pollution in the Kithiganahalli Lake, near Bommasandra suburb in Bengaluru. The NGT said it is a criminal offence being committed by the authorities in not stopping the discharge of pollutants into the water bodies.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel also slapped a fine of Rs 5 lakh on the municipal council of Bommasandra for failure to discharge its duties. Besides this, the tribunal imposed a fine of Rs 10 lakh on the Karnataka government.
"Karnataka is liable to pay Rs 10 lakh and the Municipal Council, Bommasandra is liable to pay Rs 5 lakh. Final compensation will be determined after hearing the state and the municipal council," the bench said.
If necessary, an expert committee will be appointed and it would be open to the state and the municipal council to recover the amount from the erring officers, the tribunal further said.
"Failure of important constitutional obligations by the municipal council, as well as apathy and defiance of orders of this tribunal and the Supreme Court by state authorities, is at the cost of environment and public health. (It) is very unfortunate for which prompt remedial actions must be taken and accountability of erring officers fixed," the bench said.
The NGT said only writing a letter is not compliance of the law, and the stand taken by the authorities concerned can hardly be described as a responsible stand.
Discharge of untreated sewage into water bodies causes huge damage and the prevention of the same is the duty of the state authorities as the trustees of people's rights, the tribunal noted, adding that such duty is being clearly breached.
"In view of the above for the damage caused to the environment, the state of Karnataka and Municipal Council, Bommasandra are held liable to pay interim compensation assessed on ad-hoc basis at Rs. 15 lakh.
The amount of interim compensation is liable to be deposited with the Central Pollution Control Board within one month and maybe spent for restoration of the environment, the bench said.
The green panel was hearing a plea filed by Sanjay Rao and others, seeking action against pollution in the Kithiganahalli Lake due to dumping of garbage.