Lake Development Authority completely at sea

Lake Development Authority completely at sea

Submitted by Editor on Sun, 2016-04-03 10:05 Bengaluru: Deeply concerned with the unchecked deterioration of lakes in and around Bangalore and conscious of their critical role in maintaining ecological balance, and recharging of ground water, the Lake Development Authority was created vide Government Order No. FEE/12/ENG/02, Bangalore, dated. 10th July 2002 as an autonomous regulatory, planning and policy body for Protection, Conservation, Reclamation, Restoration, Regeneration and Integrated Development of Lakes, whether natural or man-made, as a nonprofit registered society under the Karnataka Societies Registration Act, 1959.Government of Karnataka on 30.04.2003 extended the jurisdiction of the Lake Development Authority over the lakes in the other city municipal corporation of the state as they are the main sources for drinking water.However, the ground reality after 14 years of the existence of LDA is that the lakes continue to disintegrate at a faster pace, the public exchequer is poorer by Rs20 crores, ground water is depleting, and water famine looms large on Bengaluru.The LDA has failed utterly and miserably in its primary functions. There is no synergy between BBMP, BDA, DCF (urban) agencies responsible for maintenance of 193 lakes with water quality even unfit for aqua life. The CEO of LDA had expressed his inability to look after the development of lakes in Bengaluru on May 2014 itself.It is very surprising that the provisions of sections 24, 25, 33, 42 etc under the central water Act 1974, which gives adequate legal cover to act against any individual, company or government agency involved in polluting the lakes or any water stream, both natural and manmade, has never been used by the LDA in the last 14 years to protect lakes in and around Bengaluru. The revenue laws are potent enough to evict any encroachment but seldom used by the LDA. It is this unwillingness to act against offenders which is the cause of all ills and not the absence of any law on the issue.However, rather than using the existent powerful laws for protection of lakes, certain vested interests in order to give a fresh lease of life for the most ineffective, inefficient and incompetent Lake Development Authority have now enacted a new law The Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority Bill 2014, an unwanted infructuous bill which we can do without. Efforts are on to ensure that this bill is not enforced.It is abundantly clear that the LDA only wants to exercise its powers but not to shoulder the responsibility to ensure scientific implementation of existing laws to protect and develop lakes. It may not be out of place to mention that vested interests are behind the passage of such infructuous laws simply for empire building by creating another authority for maintenance of lakes when so many already exist.  It will not be incorrect to presume that these lobbies are probably overworking to protect the inactive, inefficient, organisation called the LDA which has thoroughly failed to protect, conserve, reclaim, restore and rejuvenate the lakes in and around Bengaluru for which they were established in the first place.  The dismal record of activities of the Lake Development Authority since its inception in July 2002 begs the question, why not disband the LDA with immediate effect or make the LDA proactive to shoulder their basic responsibilities? Since the KSPCB is the sole authority to protect all water bodies in the state, the LDA should be made a section under the KSPCB, to safeguard the lakes in and around Bengaluru before these precious water bodies are converted into sewage dumps affecting the health of millions humans as well as flora and fauna, which will destroy the ecological balance. The Karnataka government should just drop this new infructuous bill in public interest, since not even one case of implementing provisions of this act is available in public domain even though the act has been in operation since 5 June 2015. The government must act swiftly before it is too late. Water famine will be the next disaster ready to hit Bengaluru in particular and Karnataka in general if we do not act now. (The Author Wg Cdr GB Athri (Retd) is an RTI activist who has been unearthing scams and corruption at high places.)