The Supreme Court on Friday declined to entertain a plea by Karnataka government challenging a National Green Tribunal ruling to deposit Rs 500 crore in an escrow account for failing to take action on pollution in three lakes in Bengaluru.
The tribunal had also asked the government to submit a performance guarantee of Rs 100 crore.
Senior advocate Devadutt Kamat, representing the Karnataka government, contended before a bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde that the amount which was directed to be deposited did not qualify as fine or penalty, and to comply with this direction of such a huge amount, the state would have to make separate budgetary allocation.
Chief Justice Bobde, however, declined to hear the arguments and dismissed the plea.
The tribunal had said the state will deposit a sum of Rs 50 crore by way of interim compensation for environmental restoration with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
In December 2018, the NGT ruled that sheer failure of state authorities concerned, including the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), the three lakes — Bellandur, Agara and Varthur — as well as the “Rajakaluves” or storm water drains joining the lakes, were not clean and not free from encroachments.
The NGT said the authorities should perform their duties by developing the requisite action plan and associated funds. “Inspite of admitted grave situation, the state/BBMP have not taken any coercive measures against polluters or the concerned officers for their failure. No prosecution is shown to have been launched. No serious steps are shown to have been taken to remedy the situation. Thus, the state and the BBMP are also liable to pay compensation for the past failure,” the green court had said.
The BBMP was ordered to deposit Rs 25 crore with the CPCB.
Former Supreme Court judge Justice Santosh Hegde headed a committee, formed by the NGT, to monitor the cleaning and removal of encroachments.