Minor Irrigation Department to look after Bengaluru lakes?

Bengaluru: Lack of expertise in the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahangare Palike (BBMP) were cited as one of the reasons for transfer of the custody of all the lakes to the Minor Irrigation Department.

Though the official notice in this regard is yet to be released, the Minor Irrigation Minister T.B. Jayachandra said, “The chief minister who held a meeting with the minor irrigation department ordered the handing of lakes to the department. An official order is yet to come in this regard.”

The lake conservationists are skeptical about transferring of the lakes to minor irrigation department calling the act as a complete violation of 74th Amendment of the constitution, which empowers local government bodies.

Ram Prasad, co-founder, Friends of Lake said, “Former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had toiled a lot for the act and his son Rahul Gandhi is trying to undo this. With this move, the Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority (KLCDA) will become redundant.”

He further explained that the KLCDA is better off with the environment ministry rather than merging with the irrigation ministry. The Deputy Conservator of Forest (DCF) BBMP lakes, Jagannath Rao, has clarified that they are yet to receive such an order from the state government. “As far as funds are concerned, the state government is providing the aid to rejuvenate the lakes,” he added.

Over 167 lakes are with the BBMP and 33 with the BDA. However, in 2016 more than 100 lakes were transferred to the Palike by the BDA. The Karnataka Lake Development Authority which oversees the protection of the lakes in the city has only four lakes under its custody.

KLCDA straddles the lake issues with only 14 members when the agency requires 96 members. The environmentalists suspect that the lake authority in the past has taken stringent action against the encroachers and stopped road projects which were earlier designed on the lake bed.

Prasad emphasizes that the KLCDA act should be strengthened. “BBMP too has done exemplary job as far as lakes are concerned and it should be empowered. If the lakes have to come under roof, BBMP should be the roof and funds should be given to the palike for lakes development. Moreover, the city lakes have nothing to do with irrigation,” he pointed out.


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