Save the Lakes of Karnataka! Act NOW against new LA amendment!

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Hon’ble Governor of Karnataka
Raj Bhavan
Bengaluru

Sir,
Subject:  Bill Transferring All City Lakes To The Minor Irrigation Dept

This memorandum is being submitted to you on behalf of the various citizen groups across Bengaluru who for the past several years have been deeply involved in the restoration, protection and preservation of the water bodies in our localities. We share our knowledge, acquired expertise and experience with each other for the benefit of all.

Irrespective of which department “owns” the lake, we have been nurturing it with great commitment and zeal. Several lakes have thus been brought back to life in the city. We have been involving the local community because we believe that public participation is vital to protect lakes.

We place on record our objections to the amendment to the Tank Development Act transferring all lakes to the Minor Irrigation Department (MID) for the following reasons.

1.     It was adopted with sparse attendance in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday 22nd Feb. 2018 and passed the next day, on 23rd Feb., in the Legislative Council in haste without any discussion or debate.

2.     The reasoning of the Hon’ble Minister,  Minor Irrigation,  was that his Department is better equipped to scientifically develop lakes. With all the urban lakes under one authority, it will remove confusion about ownership of the different lakes.

3.     MID has experience and expertise in managing irrigation tanks. Urban lakes are not meant for irrigation. They are multi-functional entities including sites of biodiversity, lung spaces, groundwater recharge structures and storage of storm water and treated waste water for local reuse. Managing urban lakes involves interfacing with multiple stakeholders. MID does not have such experience.

Vital Roles of BBMP and KLCDA

4.     As per the 74th Amendment and subsequent state-level laws, small water bodies are within the jurisdiction of the urban local body.  Hence lakes within Bengaluru must be handed over to the BBMP, and not to anyone else.

 5.     BBMP is the elected local body accountable to the citizens of Bengaluru, and the lakes primarily serve the needs of these citizens. Giving BBMP jurisdiction over Bengaluru's lakes makes legal and managerial sense. 

6.     The life of a lake rests upon the quality of the inflow through storm water drains. This requires involvement of the BBMP which controls storm water drains and coordination with the BWSSB.

7.     As the elected body under 74th Amendment, BBMP must be given authority to decide how Bengaluru's treated wastewater is to be used, and also the authority to ensure that decisions taken by the BWSSB do not harm the lakes or deprive them of water.

8.     In this context, an empowered KLCDA can play a regulatory role where it would regulate both BBMP and BWSSB in their lake related decisions. 

Need for citizen participation

9.     Restoring a lake in the city is one aspect, managing and nurturing is another. It is a far bigger challenge for any government body. This cannot be done without active community participation.

10.  The mission of KLCDA Act of 2014 was “To intensify official concern and motivate community vigilance to the extent where pollution and encroachment of Lakelands would become impossible.” This inclusive Act will be repealed when Karnataka Tank Conservation and Development Authority and Certain Other Act (Amendment) Bill, 2016 is accepted and comes into force.

11.  The new law does not encourage community participation in the development, maintenance of lakes, nor does it encourage lakes to become to be an important part of the ecology and environment of the state.

12.  By distancing the public, the new law will ultimately kill all lakes, even those which are thriving under citizen custodians.

In the light of these arguments and in the interest of our city lakes, we urge you to withdraw the amendments to the Karnataka Tank Conservation and Development Authority and Certain Other Act (Amendment) Bill, 2016 that were recently passed by the Legislative Council. 

Adverse media and public outcry about the state of the lakes in the city also mentions the successful management of lakes such as Kaikondrahalli, Jakkur, Ambalipura, Kasavanahalli, Soulkere, Dorekere and Puttenahalli (Puttakere), J.P. Nagar. Many others are in different stages of progress.  Each of these, Sir, is managed by the undersigned citizen groups working together with the government departments.

We are confident that by accepting our suggestions and working together, we will be able to bring back many more lakes back to life. The future of our lakes and, indeed, of our city rests with you, Sir.

Yours faithfully,

Signed by citizen custodians of lakes

·         PNLIT

·         MAPSAS

·         FOL-Friends Of Lakes

·         Jalaposhan

·         Vikas

·         Jalmitra

·         Citizen custodians of lakes of Sarakki

·         Citizen custodians of lakes Yelahanka

·         Citizen custodians of lakes Puttenhalli

·         BRIC - Bengaluru Rajakaluve - Involved Citizens

·         … and others

Copy to:

·         Hon’ble Chief Minister, Government of Karnataka

·         Hon’ble Chief Secretary, Government of Karnataka

·         Hon’ble Minister, Forest, Ecology and Environment Dept.

·         Hon’ble Minister, Minor Irrigation Department

·         MoEFCC Departments



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