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NGT shuts down industries near Bengaluru lake, orders its cleaning

New Delhi/Bengaluru, April 19 (AZINS) The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday ordered all industries around the highly-polluted Bellandur Lake in Bengaluru to be shut and imposed Rs 5 lakh fine on anyone found dumping waste in and around the lake.

The green panel gave the state authorities one month's time to free the lake of all pollutants.

Reacting to the order, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) said it would soon draw an action plan to comply with the NGT order.

"We will obey the Tribunal order and submit an action plan in two weeks to shut down all the industries around the lake," BBMP Commissioner N. Manjunatha Prasad told IANS.

A bench headed by NGT Chief Justice Swatantar Kumar said the industries violating directions should be sealed by the State Pollution Control Board.

"All the industries located in the vicinity of Bellandur Lake and discharging effluent, either treated or untreated, are hereby directed to be closed," the bench said.

"No industry is permitted to operate unless inspection by a joint inspection team is conducted and analysis of effluent is found to be within the permissible limit," it said.

The bench added that no waste of any kind, either municipal solid waste or domestic waste, is to be dumped at the buffer zone of the lake.

"If anyone is found violating this, he or she shall be liable to pay Rs 5 lakh fine."

The tribunal asked the Karnataka state government, the State Pollution Control Board, Lake Development Authority and Bengaluru Development Authority to start cleaning the lake immediately and report back in one month.

Meanwhile, BBMP Joint Commissioner Sarfaraz Khan and state Urban Development Secretary Mahendra Jain tendered an unconditional apology to the Tribunal and gave it an undertaking to immediately withdraw a circular Prasad issued on March 30, questioning its powers.

The circular had claimed that the Tribunal had no authority to pass orders on the protection of water bodies in Bengaluru.

The apology was made and the undertaking given in response to the Tribunal's summons on Tuesday to explain why the circular had questioned its powers.

The circular was issued nearly a year after the Tribunal on May 4, 2016 ordered ban on any construction on the wetland of the lake and redefined the buffer zone of the lakes and storm-water drains across the city.

The bench also pulled up the state Law Department and officials concerned for failing to implement its earlier order to clean up the lake.

Bellandur Lake, the largest of the 262 lakes and tanks in Bengaluru, receives about 40 per cent of the city's sewage. Previously, in May 2015 and August 2016, froth over the water body had caught fire due to formation of flammable methane gas.