Bengaluru: To discuss the burning issue of watering down of environmental laws, environment activists and members of different lake groups on Saturday came together for a meeting, organised by the Citizens Agenda for Bengaluru and Aikyam Community for Sustainable Living. Environmentalists agreed to form a group, Coalition for Water Security, which will look into issues of water sustainability.
On the repeal of Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority (KLCDA) Act, activist Sandeep Anirudhan pointed out how a law makes it mandatory for the government to consult people before bringing in legislation, but often it is not done.
“A project to widen the highways in the Western Ghats is on in full swing, though there is no traffic congestion. The issue of destruction of forest and ecosystem boils down to the issue of water sustainability," he said.
The participants said that the illegal entry of Bangladeshi immigrants into India is a ramification of the wrath of climate change. “In Bangladesh, they cannot grow anything so they sell their farm at a price and through the help of agents cross the border," he said.
Mr Manjunath of the United Conservation Front warned that after South Africa, Bengaluru will become the second city in the world to face complete water shortage.
The activists have often lambasted at the government for identifying lakes as recreation spots, while on the contrary they should be seen through a prism of meeting the increasing demand of water in the city.
Referring to the lake in Peenya and terming it a ticking time bomb, environmentalist Ullash Kumar said, “Apartments with 25 flats are mandated to have STP, but the real estate industry comes up with 24 flats and escapes the obligation of installing treatment plants.”
The meeting agreed that the most worrying aspect of the city is that its ground water level is at dangerously low levels, as lakes and other catchment areas are destroyed, making it difficult to grow trees.
“The government’s response to this is steeped in ignorance, as it is not working towards holistic or sustainable solutions for improving the local environment, ecosystem or resilience. Instead, it is announcing projects that increase dependence on even more faraway river sources. Not only this, the projects would lead to unforgivable damage to forests, and the ecosystem of those rivers themselves,” Sandeep said.
Conservationists opined that due to the myopia and ignorance of previous administrations, policies, laws, incentives and subsidies were offered to encourage irresponsibility and exploitation of both groundwater and surface water, which needs intelligent correction. It was acknowledged that a holistic engagement is required to bring about change, including education, awareness, outreach, engagement and action.
Sandeep said that by keeping the focus on water and the necessity to correct all the other related factors to ensure water security, it is ideal to begin this movement by working on improving ‘water security’.
The group's focus
1. Building a movement to make the govt and citizens aware of the seriousness of the crisis our city is facing.
2. Corrective action in laws, policies, incentives and subsidies that encourage dependence on unsustainable sources and discourage protection and nurturing of local sources. Laws need to be built to encourage nurturing and building local resilience and discouraging the use of unsustainable resources.
3. Capacity building by advocacy, outreach and engagement.
4. Work with all sections of society and all stakeholders to build an enlightened citizenry and responsible stewardship of nature around us.
5. Rebuild water security and a healthy habitat to stave off effects of climate crisis that is looming.
5. A campaign for removal of all faulty laws and introduction of Bills to bring in Positive laws.
6. A campaign to introduce a law in the state to make it mandatory for all bills introduced in the Legislature to have 'Pre-legislative Public Consultation' to prevent poor or negative laws from coming into existence.
7. A campaign to introduce a law in the state to make it mandatory for all projects by govt and public bodies to have 'Pre-announcement Public Consultation'.