The National Green Tribunal (NGT) finds builders prima facie guilty of violations in Bellandur Wetlands — levies huge fine
In a judgement delivered in a case filed by a number of citizen welfare groups in Koramangala, HSR Layout and Bellandur, the Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal has found prima facie evidence of serious irregularities and imposed fines amounting to Rs. 139.4 Crore on the two developers involved.
Mantri Techzone P Ltd has been asked to pay a fine of Rs. 117.4 Crore and Coremind Software and Services P Ltd has been asked to pay a fine of Rs. 22 Crore.
A committee has been set up by the bench to look into the negative effect caused on the wetlands conseqeuent to construction of a project in the site.
The committee is to submit a detailed report to the NGT within 3 months time.
In the interim, further clearances, renewals of clearances, permits etc by Government agencies have been disallowed by the bench. The builders have also been barred from creating any third party rights by way of selling rights in the property planned for construction.
The history of the ongoing litigation dates back to 2013 when a group of Resident Welfare Associations in Koramangala, HSR and Bellandur with the active support of Namma Bengaluru Foundation and the Citizens Action Forum filed a Public Interest Writ in the High Court of Karnataka drawing the attention of the court to the potentially catastrophic consequences that could result if the projects in question were allowed to come up.
After a couple of months, a few other organizations knocked on the doors of the Southern Regional Bench of the NGT which stayed further work on the projects while the case was being heard.
A few months after the stay, the case was transferred to the Principal Bench of the NGT in Delhi which passed orders on Thursday with regard to the matter. The original High Court case continues with regard to the issues of land acquisition, allotment and procedural abnormalities.
Throughout this process, Residents Welfare Associations have been greatly supported by Namma Bengaluru Foundation, an organization started by Member of Parliament, Rajeev Chandrasekhar to articulate the aspirations of the citizens of Bangalore.
A noteworthy feature of the verdict is that it applies not only to the Bellandur catchment area but to all catchments and wetlands in Bangalore.
State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority and MInistry of Environment have been prohibited from sanctioning any further projects in catchments and wetlands of all lakes in Bangalore