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NGT Verdict hits builders; protects lakes, wetlands

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The Principal bench of the National Green Tribunal, in a hard hitting judgement has confirmed the fines on Mantri and Coremind, quashed the sanctioned plans for their projects and annulled their Environmental Clearances. The project proponents will now have to go back to the various agencies for clearances and re-start the process once again.
Highlights of the order:
gThe petitions filed by a group of RWAs and bodies (Forward Foundation, Bangalore Environment Trust and Praja) with Namma Bengaluru Foundation (NBF) of MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar and Citizens Action Forum have been allowed by the Tribunal.
g   NGT has for the first time set higher threshold of buffer zones for constructions around lakes and rajakaluves for the entire city of Bangalore. Buffer zone around lakes will be 75m instead of the earlier 30 metres and will be a no construction zone. For primary rajakaluves buffer zone will be 50 meters.  Also, unlike previously, the distance of the buffer zone for rajakaluves has been directed to be computed from the edge of the rajakaluve instead of the centre point. Similarly the figures for secondary and tertiary drains have been re-assessed as 35 metres and 25 metres respectively from the edge of the drains instead of from the centre point as was the practice earlier.
g  Environment Clearances and sanctioned plans of Mantri Techzone and Coremind (Salarpuria company) for their constructions in and around the Bellandur-Agara Lakes have been quashed. any further construction is stayed until fresh/amended environmental clearances are obtained by the builders. Any fresh clearances will have to comply with new strict conditions laid down. Any construction post clearance will have to be monitored on daily basis by SEIAA Karnataka.
g   Mantri has been directed to restore the 3 acre 10 guntas encroached lake bed area immediately to the authorities.
g  Compensation penalty imposed on Mantri  Rs.117.35 crores. Coremind is to pay an amount of 13.5 crores as compensation.
g     There is a combined direction to remove the muck/debris deposited in the Rajakaluve within 4 weeks failing which LDA shall undertake the same and charges shall have to be paid by the two builders.
g     Government is to conduct a traffic survey of traffic along Agara bund road. Mantri is to facilitate construction of a service road in its own property all along the periphery of the property.
g   All buffers to be left by court directives cannot be counted towards empty space requirements in EC clearances and fresh additional empty space has to be left.
g    NGT has ordered LDA to survey property of Mantri and Coremind and demolish all structures including compound walls which fall within the fresh buffers listed.

City wide reliefs
g    All planning and sanctioning authorities in Bangalore have been ordered to incorporate new lake buffer norms and new Rajakaluve norms for purpose of new sanctions.
g   Government of Karnataka should notify a list of all protected wetlands in the state to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India which will gazette the same within a period of 4 weeks.
The order makes it clear that new norms for buffers will apply only to future sanctioned plans. Existing buildings are not affected by the revised buffer norms. As such, the unwarranted scare mongering that has taken place over the last few days in some leading newspapers is totally without any basis.

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