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SC upholds NGT order on encroachment of Bellandur, Agara Wetlands

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Bengaluru, Mar 05: The Supreme Court Tuesday dismissed the appeal of M/s Mantri TechZone and M/s Coremind Software Services to quash the judgment passed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) principal bench in 2016.

The Supreme Court. File photo

"It is also clear from the materials on record that there is a definite possibility of environment, ecology, lakes, and wetland being adversely affected by these projects, The apex court said.

It said that NGT's findings that the projects for setting up of Software Technology park, commercial and residential complex, hotel and multi level car parks in the protected zone in between the Bellandur Lake and the Agara lake -- would cause serious damage to environment, were right.

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With the Supreme Court dismissing the appealed filed, Mantri Tech Zone and Coremind Software Services will have to pay 117.5 Crore and 13.5 crore fine 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 to rebuild the 'Rajakulave' diverted to make way for the construction.

MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar welcomed the order, saying, "This was a big David vs Goliath legal fight that was fought all the way to the Supreme Court after first petitioning the NGT. The builders with their 6-7 big expensive lawyers were trying to overturn NGT order. Namma Bengaluru Foundation and other citizens... have defeated builder-politico nexus that was looting Bengaluru and Bellandur lake."

NGT judgment on buffer zone:

On 4th May 2016, the NGT's Principal Bench had passed a judgement specifying buffer zone of 75 metres in case of lakes, 50 metres for primary, 35 metres for secondary and 25 metres for tertiary raja-kaluves to be maintained from the edge of these water bodies.

The NGT then had observed that these buffers are absolutely essential for sustainable development of the environment of the area in question. These buffer zones were directed to be maintained as green belts, and as 'no construction zone' for all intent and purposes. The NGT's judgement was critical for restoring Bengaluru's lakes and environment.

It was then that the Government of Karnataka and the two private entities - Mantri Tech Zone and Coremind Software Services approached the Hon'ble Supreme Court bench consisting of Justices A K Sikri, Justice S Abdul Nazeer and Justice 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, founded by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, has been petitioner in the case since 2014, first in the NGT and later in the Supreme Court.

NBF has been at the forefront in the fight to reclaim Bellandur-Agra Catchment area from the clutches of vested interests since March 2014, when it took this fight the NGT and later continued to fight this matter in the Supreme Court.

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