Bengaluru: Dwindling governance and transparency in administration and apathetic neglect of civic issues were part of an intense discussion by civic experts and conservationists at an event organised by the Namma Bengaluru Foundation (NBF) on Saturday.
Demanding accountability from the government, Rajya Sabha member Rajeev Chandrasekhar said, “The government is not taking enough action. Any issue cannot be swept under the carpet and we as citizens of this city must raise our voice to make the government hear it.”
Lack of citizen participation and encroachments of lakes were the pivotal concerns of activists. Lack of coordination between civic agencies is one of the major reasons behind the loss of water bodies, they said.
According to the Koliwad Committee report, of 57,932 acres of lake land in Bengaluru Urban and Rural, 10,785 acres are encroached. This is close to 20 percent of lake land being encroached. Also, pollution and encroachment of storm water drains and lakes has led to groundwater contamination, they pointed out.
Mr Ramprasad, co-founder, Friends of Lakes, said, “Our lakes have become picnic spots for people and not many are interested in rejuvenating them. These water bodies need to be
protected as they can supply water to our city. An amendment to the KTDCA Act brought in by this government is a disaster to lakes as it allows construction of roads and bridges on the lake bed if the water table is not disturbed.”
Though the government has reportedly spent large amounts of money on construction roads, solid waste management and maintenance of storm water drains, the situation in the city remains grim. Under the Swacch Bharat ranking, the city, which was the seventh cleanest city in the country in 2105, has now fallen to the 210 position, they said.
On illegal stone quarrying at the Bannerghatta National Park, tree doctor Vijay Nishanth said that the villagers living near the national park are scared to file complaints as they are being threatened by the mining mafia.
NBF CEO Sridhar Pabbisetty said, “We find the principle challenge facing our city today is the lack to transparency in the functioning of the government, lack of accountability of decision-makers, lack of devolution of powers to local bodies and lack of citizen participation in governance. The agenda for the upcoming elections must be improvement in all these areas, so that the vast money spent in the next five years will result in better quality of life for all citizens.”