Bengaluru: Supreme Court order on buffer zone, a big victory for eco-activists

Mantri Tech Zone, Coremind have to pay a fine of Rs 117.5 crore.

Bengaluru: In a huge win for citizens of Bengaluru, the Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed the appeal of two private entities to quash a judgement passed by the National Green Tribunal's (NGT) principal bench on May 4, 2016.

The NGT's Principal Bench had passed a judgement then that specified buffer zone of 75 metres in case of lakes, 50 metres for primary, 35 metres for secondary and 25 metres for tertiary rajakaluves to be maintained from the edge of these water bodies.

The NGT in its order had observed that the buffer zones that were specified were essential for sustainable development of the environment of the area in question. The specified buffer zones were directed to be maintained as green belts, and as 'no construction zone' for all intent and purposes.

It was then that the Government of Karnataka and the two private entities – Mantri Tech Zone and Coremind Software Services approached the apex court bench consisting of Justices A.K. Sikri, S. Abdul Nazeer and M.R. Shah in April 2017 seeking to quash the NGT's order citing that the Tribunal had no jurisdiction to promulgate such orders.

Namma Bengaluru Foundation (NBF) has been a petitioner in the case since 2014, first in the NGT and later in the Supreme Court.

The SC in December 2016 stayed the NGT's directions to the Rs 117 crore penalty imposed on Mantri Techzone and Coremind Software and Services.

With the Supreme Court dismissing the appeal filed, Mantri Tech Zone and Coremind Software Services will have to pay the fine of Rs 117.5 Crore and Rs.13.5 crore respectively and will have to demolish structures and vacate the 3 acres 10 gunta area encroached in the Bellandur catchment area. More importantly, Mantri Tech Zone will also have rebuild the Rajakulave they was diverted to make way for the construction.

Speaking on this victory, Suresh NR, Director NBF said "We have been at the forefront in this fight to restore Bengaluru's historic and critical waterbodies. Our fight has drawn immense support from citizens across Bengaluru, this support has given us the strength to take our fight to the Courts, including the NGT and the Supreme Court of India."

"It was pro-people organisations like Forward Foundation, Praja Raag, Bengaluru Environmental Trust have exhibited the sheer will and commitment to ensure that Bengaluru has a fighting chance in this battle" Suresh added.

"The Supreme Court dismissing the appeals of Mantri TechZone and Coremind against the orders of the NGT is excellent news for the citizens of Bengaluru. Had the projects been permitted to come up, Bellandur would have been deprived of 100 acres of wetland and the long suffering Bellandur lake would have seen its rejuvenation suffer a serious setback. It would also have led to serious flooding in upstream areas in HSR Layout and Koramangala," said Nitin Sheshadri, Citizen activist and resident of Koramangala.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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