Saturday, May 22, 2010

More power for Lake Development Authority soon

Poornima Nataraj Bangalore, May 21, DHNS

If all goes well, the Lake Development Authority (LDA) will have its own "Karnataka Lake Development Authority Act" by the end of 2010.

A 'Bill' has already been drafted by the Chief Conservator of Forest and head of LDA U V Singh and would be taken up for discussion at the Cabinet meeting.

Singh said that the Act will empower the Authority to take action against all kinds of illegal encroachment and activities in and around the lake and also the lake bed.

"The LDA, at present is a 'toothless agency' as it cannot take any action against intruders. As of now, we are only conducting surveys on lakes without actually taking any action against encroachers or violators," he said.

To address all violations

The Karnataka Lake Development Authority Bill has been meticulously framed to address all kinds of violations and to take appropriate action against the violators.

Highlighting some of the important points in the 'Bill', Singh said that there are three main objectives in the 'Bill': First, deterrent action through punishment which includes three years of imprisonment; second, it is not just the violators, but also those government agencies who need to take onus for not taking necessary action against violators on time; third any action taken by the department should not be unnecessarily dragged to a law suit - enough protection will be given to those officers involved in saving the lake with good intention.

The LDA Bill is currently with the legal advisor of the Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure and Development Task Force (ABIDe), which will be further sent to different government agencies including BDA, BBMP, BWSSB and KSPCB etc; and department of Revenue, Horticulture, Animal Husbandry, Forest to make their alterations.

To get more grants

The present LDA is receiving three crore rupees as annual grants from the state government. Once the legislation is passed, this agency could get more grants for lake development. Besides grants, LDA also need to recruit staff as there is acute staff crunch in the Authority.

"This place is like an ocean. We have lot of work to do in terms of survey and gathering reports on individual lakes but very few hands to work," added Dr U V Singh.

In the run up to the BBMP elections, Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa had promised to recharge lakes and work towards lake development in the City. Passing the Bill in the legislation could be the beginning step in this regard.

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