Friday, September 26, 2008

Rs 3 crore goes down the drain

Rs 3 crore goes down the drain
CAG Unearths Major Irregularities In Bellandur Lake Rejuvenation Project
Vinay Madhav | TNN

Bangalore: Even as Bangalore is fast losing its lakes, plans to rejuvenate them are turning sour. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the legislature has highlighted a scam in a project to revive Bellandur lake, one of the first lakes restored by the Lake Development Authority (LDA).
The issue came up for discussion during PAC meetings on Monday and Tuesday. The panel referred to a report of the comptroller and auditor general (CAG) that pointed out irregularities in implementing the rejuvenation programme.
After a detailed discussion, the PAC team has decided to visit the lake on September 30 to asses the situation. “The project speaks of bio-rejuvenation of the lake. A lot of technical terms and names of equipment have been mentioned. But nothing seems to be in place and the scam appears to be running up to Rs 3 crore. Going by CAG reports, we are doubtful if anything was done to the lake at all. It is said that the Bellandur lake is no better than it was before rejuvenation. Even effluents are said to be let into the lake now,’’ PAC sources pointed out.
Bellandur lake, once famous for its bird and fish population, degraded during the ’90s. Industrialization around Bellandur did the damage and effluents were let into the lake. In the late ’90s, Bellandur lake shot to attention when water pollution caused froth to form around it during the monsoon. Besides damaging crops in Bellandur village, the water was declared not fit for use. This created a hue and cry, leading to some action.
Meanwhile, the LDA was formed to restore dying lakes across the state. Bellandur was one of those taken up for restoration. The LDA took up ‘ecorestoration’ of the lake, including introduction of bacteria that convert organic silt into carbon dioxide and water. Besides constant aerating the water, there were plans to introduce dephospating chemicals and monitor water so that it does not harm the crops.
PAC chairman S Siddaramiah said there was a discussion on CAG’s observation. “The officials didn’t have the papers sought by the committee. The members have decided to visit the spot to assess the situation better. We can comment only after the visit,’’ he said.

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