The principal bench in Delhi is hearing the Bellandur Lake case when intervener Namma Bengaluru Foundation submitted the BBMP circular dated March 30, 2017, highlighting the civic body’s apathy to the city’s lakes.
The foundation counsel accused the authorities of malfeasance in circumventing the tribunal’s directives. He also read out extracts of the urban development department letter, referred to by the circular, which stated that the NGT does not have powers to frame law.
Furious at the language of the circular, the green bench asked the Karnataka
government counsel: “By what authority have you clarified our judgment?“ The bench threatened to initiate contempt proceedings against guilty officials. The Karnataka counsel conceded that the language used was `unfortunate’.
The bench also summoned the state pollution control board, lake conservation and development authority and BWSSB officials to appear before it at Wednesday’s hearing. It directed the state to make special arrangements for their travel, if required, to get them to the court in time. The tribunal also expressed serious concern at the apathy of officials present in the courtroom regarding the quanity of sewage being treated or dumped in Bengaluru’s waterbodies.
Mahendra Jain, additional chief secretary, urban development department, who was present in court, submitted that 480 million litres per day (MLDs) of untreated sewage flows towards Bellandur lake, of which about 250 MLDs gets treated. He also said Sewage Treatment Plants of 150 MLD are being built near the lake.
When these figures contradicted figures in affidavits filed by different authorities, the officer sought time to reconcile his notes.
At a hearing last week, the tribunal had directed the state government to stop flow of untreated sewage into the lake immediately. The government was warned that an environment compensation charge would be imposed if it failed to comply with the direction. Jain appeared before the NGT on behalf of the chief secretary who had been summoned.