CAG indicts BDA for not clearing encroachment before restoring lake

BDA did not clear the land encroached by a spiritual trust, before starting the restoration work. Result: Sewage continued to flow into the lake.

The Comptroller Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its report, has indicted the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) of not clearing the encroachment of Doddabidarakallu lake, before taking up restoration works, and not being able to complete the work as per the specifications.

The CAG report on General and Social Sector for Karnataka for the year ending at March 2013, says that the BDA had accorded administrative approval for the work of restoration and development of the Doddabidarakallu lake at a cost of Rs 8.25 crore, in May 2010. The Lake Development Authority (LDA) approved the technical sanction to the work for Rs 4.16 crore in February 2011, on the basis of the Detailed Project Report (DPR) prepared by a consultant.

The work consisted of desilting of the lake, strengthening of the existing bund, waste water diversion, improvements to the waste-weir, tank for idol immersion, boundary protection, pathway and railing works for the existing bund, construction of an office building, etc.

At the time of according technical sanction, the LDA stipulated that (i) the encroachments around the lake were to be cleared before taking up the work, (ii) the lake area on the Radha Soami Satsang Beas (a spiritual society) side was to be verified and cleared of encroachments and (iii) Total Station Surveys were to be conducted before commencement and after completion of the desilting work for assessing the quantum of silt.

The CAG report notes that even before according technical sanction to the work, LDA had informed the BDA in August 2010 that lake area of 4.18 acres had been irregularly granted to the Satsang by the Special Deputy Commissioner despite judgments given by the High Court (WP 31343/95) and the Supreme Court that lake land should not be granted for any other activities.

The LDA had also requested the BDA to get the land grant cancelled and to write to the State Government for taking necessary action against the Special Deputy Commissioner for this unlawful act. Because, the Satsang area was critical to the lake, as an inlet channel was to be constructed in this area to lead the sewage water away from the lake area.

However, the BDA neither ensured the cancellation of the illegal grant of the land nor cleared the encroachments, before awarding the work to a contractor for Rs 4.10 crore in March 2011, with the condition of completion of the work by September 2011. The BDA also appointed the Chairman, Faculty of Engineering and Civil, Bangalore University, in April 2011, as the project management consultant (PMC) for a consultancy fee of Rs 2.86 lakh to take care of monitoring, quality assurance, scrutiny of contractor’s bills etc.

No diversion of sewage, desilting not satisfactory

The contractor had been paid Rs 1.06 crore and the second bill for Rs 1.65 crore, submitted during September 2012, had not been paid as of March 2013.The contractor had completed the desilting work and partially completed the strengthening of the tank bund, tank for idol immersion, fencing, improvements to the waste-weir and office building, by December 2012. The PMC did not certify the second bill of the contractor as it had not appointed any supervisor to oversee the desilting work claimed in the second bill. The work remained suspended after submission of the second bill by the contractor.

The critical component of sewage diversion had not been taken up by the contractor as the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (Board) had been planning in July 2012 to lay a sewage pipeline along the periphery of the lake under the Karnataka Municipal Reforms Project.

The LDA accorded approval to the proposal of the Board to lay pipeline in July 2012. As the alignment proposed by the Board had not been cleared of encroachments, the Board proposed in June 2013 an alternative alignment within 10 meters from the left bund boundary of the lake which was yet to be approved by the LDA.

As there was nothing done to divert the sewage water before commencement or after completion of the desilting work, “the lake continued to receive sewage water and was full of water hyacinth and other aquatic weeds, indicating high levels of pollution and eutrophication,” says the CAG report.

“The work ended up as an example of poor planning, resulting in no value addition despite investment of Rs 1.06 crore on restoration of the lake… none of the objectives had been achieved and the lake continued to remain polluted. The matter was referred to Government in July 2013; reply has not been received till November 2013,” concludes the CAG report.

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