Collated here are petitions, affidavits, memos and notes filed by ESG to protect lakes of Karnataka before Karnataka High Court (WP 817/2008 & WP 38401/2014) and Supreme Court of India (Civil Appeal 17166/2013). You will also find here judicial orders, reports and laws that are an outcome of this ongoing effort. This section will be updated frequently.
First, A Sincere Appeal
Saving lakes is tough work. It demands complex research, sourcing of information from multiple agencies, challenging field work, long hours of analysis and committed public interest litigation over years. All this is being done by the small group we are, largely without funding support. We could do much better if you support this ongoing effort. So please consider donating generously.
We particularly request philanthropies and philanthropists to consider giving to ESG. Your largeheartedness will help us help hundreds of communities across Karnataka in reclaiming lakes, raja kaluves (canals) and ponds, thus extending water security and public health for all. What’s more, we can turn our wetlands again into biodiversity rich areas they were, until recently.
Please continue reading about our ongoing efforts protecting and rehabilitating lakes in Bangalore and across Karnataka, in socially just and ecologically wise ways. This approach has drawn global acclamation, including from late Nobel laureate Prof. Elinor Ostrom and from UN Water which has recognised ESG’s lake protection efforts as a global best practice.
The Original Lakes PIL:
On 11th April 2012, a Division Bench of the Karnataka High Court issued a final order in a Public Interest Litigation filed by ESG (WP 817/2008) seeking an end to the policy of privatisation of lakes, and for advancing a participatory schema that would assist protection and rehabilitation of lakes (and their canal networks), in Bangalore and across Karnataka.
This PIL was heard over four years, and several interim directions were issued. These interim directions included inviting recommendations of a committee set up under the Chairman of the Karnataka Legal Services Authority and then Judge of the Court, Mr. Justice N. K. Patil (since retd.) to propose steps to restore lakes as biodiversity-rich, environmentally healthy, and socially inclusive wetland ecosystems.
Following extensive consultations, field visits, and meetings with various line departments and also a wide range of public, Justice Patil produced two reports, one proposing comprehensive guidelines for lake protection and rehabilitation, and the second on why the policy of privatisation of lakes should not be persisted with. The High Court accepted both reports in its final order of 11th April 2012, in which it also directed the State to set up District and Municipal Lake Protection Committees to guide lake protection and revival based on community participation.
In addition, the Court directed the State Government to establish an apex quasi-judicial body at the State level to attend to unresolved disputes headed by State Revenue Secretary and Member Secretary of the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority.
This PIL brought to fore the need to strengthen institutional arrangements to protect lakes and rajakaluves (canals) across the State. Karnataka has about 40,000 lakes and thousands of kilometres of Kaluves; over 10,000 lakes have been lost in recent decades. Bangalore city has over 400 lakes, and according to authoritative estimates about 200 lakes have been lost, or are suffering from serious encroachment and pollution. This has had a direct and adverse impact on the ecological, health and food securities of millions across the state. ESG’s efforts, therefore, aren’t limited to protecting these biodiversity-rich wetlands, but towards also ensuring the security of present and future generations, and for being home to dozens of species of migratory waterfowl that visit this region every winter from as faraway as Siberia, Mongolia and Eurasia.
Enforcing compliance with judicial directives
For over a year, 2012 order of the Karnataka High Court remained unimplemented. Highlighting this egregious lapse, ESG filed a Contempt Case against the Chief Secretary of Karnataka (CCC 1336/2013). The High Court closed the Contempt Case the Karnataka Government issued orders to set up the District/Municipal Lake Protection Committees.
ESG also preferred a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court of India (Civil Appeal 17166/2013) seeking quashing of lease agreements extended to three corporate entities (Oberoi – Hebbal Lake, Lumbini – Nagawara Lake and Vengaiah Kere – Par-C), which effectively privatised the lake management. The appeal is pending adjudication since.
A Special Law to Protect Lakes of Karnataka
A direct result of this PIL effort is an unprecedented effort of the Karnataka Legislature which enacted a special law to protect lakes across the state guided by the Karnataka High Court order and the Justice Patil Committee Guidelines. The draft law acknowledges this fact, underwent several revisions and in 2014 the Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority Act and the Karnataka Tank Conservation and Development Act were enacted. As there were several inconsistencies in these laws, they were further amended in 2018 and the result is The Karnataka Tank Conservation And Development Authority And Certain Other Law (Amendment) Act, 2018.
Joining PIL initiative of Citizens Action Group
In June 2019, Environment Support Group and Leo F. Saldanha impleaded in a PIL relating to the protection of stormwater drains/raja kaluves initiated by Bangalore-based Citizens Action Group (WP 38401/2014). The Impleading Applications were allowed by the Principal Bench of the Karnataka High Court headed by Chief Justice Mr. Abhay Oka. Subsequently, a range of issues and concerns relating to lake protection and management have been brought to the attention of the Court.
Unprecedented orders have resulted. These have forestaged the need for promoting community involvement and ground-up surveillance against lake encroachment and pollution; to effectively implement directions issued in ESG’s Lakes PIL (WP 817/2008), and considering Lakes as Public Commons as per the Doctrine of Public Trust. In so directing, the High Court has taken cognisance of lake studies conducted by Environmental Management Policy Research Institute (2018), studies by National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (2019, 2020), and Survey of Irrigation Tanks as Wetlands Habitats (1989) conducted by Birdwatchers Field Club of Bangalore..
Importantly, the High Court has made applicable the Justice Patil Committee recommendations to the entire State of Karnataka. In addition, the State Revenue Department has been directed to survey each and every lake and their raja kaluves throughout the State and fix their legal limits, along with No Development Zone, in urban and rural areas. To seamlessly integrate institutional efforts to implement High Court directives and the law, the 11th April 2012 order in ESG’s PIL (WP 817/2008) was further amended by an order dated 15 June 2021 in which the functioning of the District and Municipal Lake Protection Committees was clarified and strengthened. In compliance with these directions, the Karnataka Government issued an order relating to the functioning of these Committees and another order regarding protection of ‘Buffer Zones’ around lakes.
Scroll down to find documentation relating to this ongoing effort to protect and conserve Karnataka’s lakes and raja kaluves to secure ecological, health, economic, social and cultural securities of present generations, and generations to come
First comprehensive effort to save lakes of Bangalore
Laxman Rao Committee Report, entitled, Of the Expert Committee for Preservation, Restoration or Otherwise of the Existing Tanks in Bangalore Metropolitan Area (1986).
Public Interest Petitions filed by Environment Support Group (WP 817/2008) and outcomes
ESG’s PIL on Lakes filed in High Court of Karnataka (WP 817/2008)
Daily Orders by Hon’ble Karnataka High Court pertaining to WP 817/2008.
List of Lakes in Bangalore as listed in “Report of the Committee constituted by the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka to examine the ground realities & prepare an Action Plan for preservation of lakes in the city of Bangalore (26th February 2011)” chaired by then Judge of the Karnataka High Court, Justice Mr. N. K. Patil (since Retd.).
Karnataka High Court Order in the case of B. Krishna Bhat Vs The State of Karnataka and Ors (WP 1841/2006).
ESG’s Contempt Petition against Karnataka Chief Secretary was dropped by the Karnataka High Court on confirmation that the Government would comply with directions issued in WP 817/2008
ESG’s Contempt Petition (CCC No. 1336/2013) and Consequent Order.
ESG has appealed against a part of the order of the Karnataka High Court in WP 817/2008, as the agreements privatising lakes in Bangalore were not quashed. The matter is pending adjudication in the Supreme Court of India.
Leo Saldanha (as party in person) and ESG impleaded in a PIL filed by Citizens Action Group before the Karnataka High Court. Various unprecedented orders to support ecologically wise and socially just rehabilitation of lakes have been issued. The Court has also held the State accountable for non-implementation of order in WP 817/2008
ESG’s Impleading Application in WP 38401/2014 (Citizens Action Group Vs the State of Karnataka and Ors).
ESG’s Impleading Application in WP 29107/2019 c/w WP 38401/2014
Daily Orders of Hon’ble Karnataka High Court in WP 38401/2014
Daily Orders of Hon’ble Karnataka High Court regarding Begur and Subramanyapura Lakes in WP 817/2008, WP 46523/2012 and WP 38401/2014 updated till 2nd June 2022.
Affidavits, Memos and Representations by ESG
- Affidavit filed in WP 38401/2014, dated 13th Aug 2019, pertaining to status of Subramanyapura Kere and Annexures.
- Affidavit filed in WP 38401/2014, dated 27th August 2019, pertaining to status of Begur Lake, Jaraganahalli & Yelachenahalli lakes, and Venkatrayanakere and Annexures showing the status of these lakes and the degree of degradation over the years.
- Affidavit filed in WP 38401/2014, dated 21st October 2019, which is a tabular compilation of Hon’ble HC’s directions and the compliance status.
- Affidavit filed in WP 38401/2014, dated 27th November 2019, inviting the Karnataka High Court’s attention to a map showing Yelachenahalli Lake with encroachments; on the questionable claim of Jaraganahalli tank to be private property and the need for a systematic ecological survey of Bangalore lakes as Waterbird Habitat.
- Affidavit filed in WP 38401/2014, dated 17th December 2019, pertaining to ground-truthing of various details of the 19 disused lakes in current context.
- Affidavit filed in WP 38401/2014, dated 13th January 2020, pertaining to the ongoing waterfowl survey and the privatization of lakes in Bangalore.
- Affidavit filed in WP 38401/2014, dated 28th February 2020, pertaining to the update of the survey of Bangalore lakes as Habitats for Migratory Birds, facilitation of wetland survey, studying the health of lakes with plankton analysis, responses to affidavits dated 13th February filed by Revenue Secretary, overview of observations on the MoUs and DPRs made available by the KTCDA and the status of Bhimenahalli lake, Ramnagara district and Annexures.
- Memo dated 21st November 2020 filed in response to NEERI Report regarding Begur and Subramanyapura Lake
- Memo dated 26th November 2020 & its Annexures in response to affidavit submitted by BBMP on Begur; Highlighting detrimental activities being undertaken in lakes such as Doddabommasandra, Beniganahalli and Rampura; and submitting a synoptic report entitled “Avifaunal patterns in the Lakes of Bangalore over three Decades: 1989-2020” prepared by noted ornithologist and wetland specialist Dr. S. Subramanya
- Memo dated 16th December 2020 raising concerns over privatisation of management of six lakes in Bengaluru and Mysuru and the reduction of spatial extent of Hebbal and Nagawara lakes in Bengaluru
- Memo dated 11th January 2021 regarding ESG’s efforts to protect Krishnarajapura Kere
- Memo dated 16th January 2021 submitting Ornithologist Dr. S. Subramanya’s analysis of “Avifaunal Patterns in the Lakes of Bangalore over Three Decades: 1980-2020“
- Memo dated 8th February 2021 submitting observations on the Phase-1 NEERI Reports
- Affidavit dated 10th February 2021 further highlighting key aspects for improving NEERI’s recommendations in the Phase-1 Reports
- Memo dated 22nd February 2021 highlighting the encroachment of Begur Lake by an apartment complex
- Memo dated 2nd March 2021 highlighting unlawful proposal to introduce toy train in Mathikere Lake
- Memo dated 5th March 2021 proposing reconstitution of lake committees in Karnataka
- Representation dated 10th March 2021 to NEERI and BBMP proposing modification of restoration plan for disused lakes of Arehalli, Thavarekere and Kamakshipalya in accordance with directions of Hon’ble High Court in WP No. 38401 of 2014
- Application for modification dated 12 March 2021 of the final judgement and order dated 11.04.2012 in W.P. No. 817/2008 regarding the constitution of Lake Protection Committees as per directions of the Hon’ble High Court in W.P. No. 38401/2014 dated 05.03.2021
- Memo dated 18th March 2021 proposing BBMP regarding the design of a bridge to be constructed on Subramanyapura Kere
- Note summarising proposals for reconstituting lake committees in Karnataka, submitted to the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka on 25.03.2021
- Memo dated 28 June 2021 containing brief submissions proposed feeling of woodland in Singanayakanahalli Lake and concretisation of Subramanyapura Lake
- Memo dated 12 July 2021 containing submissions regarding Jaraganahalli and Yelachenahalli Lakes, Singanayakanahalli Lake (bringing on record representation with objections addressed to the Deputy Conservator of Forest, Bangalore), Subramanyapura Lake (bringing on record representation addressed to the Chief Engineer (SWD), BBMP), Krishnarajapura Lake, and Begur Lake (highlighting encroachments in no development zone of lake)
- Memo dated 9 August 2021 submitting research note on definition of “rajakaluves”; highlighting violation of orders of Hon’ble High Court regarding Begur Lake; and on completion of illegal concretisation of rajakaluve of Subramanyapura Lake
- Memo dated 11th August 2021 of the 9th Respondent highlighting interference with due course of proceedings and implementation of the orders of the Hon’ble High Court on Begur Lake
- Memo dated 16th August 2021 of the 9th Respondent with submissions building on the Memo dated 9th August 2021
- Memo dated 30th March 2022 filed by 8th Respondent praying for the implementation of NK Patil Report guidelines with respect to Subramanyapura Lake
- Memo dated 8th April 2022 filed by 8th Respondent highlighting the encroachment of Sunkalpalya Lake
- Memo dated 18th April 2022 filed by 8th Respondent requesting implementation of NK Patil Report guidelines with respect to Begur, Subramanyapura Lake and Cubbon Park Wetland
- Affidavit filed in WP 38401/2014, dated 1st June 2022 filed by 8th Respondent regarding Begur, Subramanyapura, Sunkalpalya Lakes and Cubbon Park Wetland
- Affidavit filed in WP 38401/2014, dated 13th July 2022 filed by 8th Respondent submitting the Report on the Status of Begur, Subramanyapura and Sunkalpalya Lakes
- Memo dated 2nd February 2023, filed by 8th Respondent as Proof of Service of Affidavit
- Affidavit filed in WP 38401/2014, dated 17th February 2023 filed by 8th Respondent highlighting the encroachments, including religious structures in Malathahalli Lake and Mathikere, JP Park
- Memo dated 30th May 2023 by ESG producing various articles on floods in Bengaluru
Documents filed in WP 29107/2019 c/w WP 38401/2014
- Memo dated 9th August 2021 regarding Arekere Lake
- IA in 7th September 2022 regarding illegal encroachments of lakes, especially Bagalgunte Lake, North Bangalore
- Affidavit dated 6th October 2022 regarding encroachment in buffer zone of Arekere Lake
- Rejoinder to IA 2:2022 dated 21st November 2022 regarding Mallathalli Lake
- IA dated 10th February 2023, Direction to stop of all installations in lake bed in Mallathalli Lake
- IA dated 17th February 2023 impleading Respondent 6 to 13 with regards to Mallathalli Lake
- Rejoinder to IA 2/2023 dated 9th March 2023 regarding Mallathalli Lake
- IA by Petitioner dated 16th March, 2023 for action against chief engineer lakes regarding Mallathalli Lake
- Memo dated 28th March 2023 regarding Hosakerehalli Lake
Affidavits by the State and BBMP
- BBMP’s Affidavit seeking modification to Hon’ble High Court’s order of 30th August 2019 wrt Begur Lake
- NEERI Report on Begur & Subramanyapura Kere, dated 17th December 2019 & 11th February 2020 respectively
- Affidavit dated 20 November 2020 filed by the Principal Secretary, Revenue Department, Government of Karnataka showing compliance with the Hon’ble High Court’s order dated 04.03.2020 in WP No. 38401/2014, including on functioning of District Level Lake Protection Committees, Apex Level Committee and MOUs entered into with corporates for lake rejuvenation
- NEERI’s second submission on Begur Lake dated 15th December 2020
- Compliance affidavit dated 16 December 2020 filed by BBMP showing joint action taken with State Government and action undertaken pending submission of NEERI Report
- Affidavit dated 16th December 2020 filed by Citizen Action Group (Petitioner) showing state of compliance with orders passed in WP No. 817/2008 and WP No. 38401/2014
- Phase -1 NEERI Reports on “Study of Lakes of Bengaluru City for Protection, Restoration and Rejuvenation as per Directives of Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka” prepared in compliance with the directions of the Hon’ble High Court vide order dated 18.06.2019, produced by BBMP along with memo dated 16.12.2020
- Report submitted by VIMOS Technocrats Pvt Ltd on Benefits of Artificial Islands in Urban Lakes and Response to Legal Aspects of Begur Lake Development
- Compliance affidavit and further action report dated 15 January 2021 regarding privatisation of lakes filed by the Under Secretary, Government of Karnataka Minor Irrigation & Ground Water Development Department
- Compliance affidavit dated 1st February 2021 filed by BBMP regarding status of Phase-1NEERI Reports
- Compliance Memo dated 30th July 2021 filed by State with deatils of Apex Committee’s 8th Meeting and G.O. for constitution of District Level Committee
- Compliance Memo dated 9th August 2021 filed by the State regarding survey of Subramanyapura Lake
- Compliance Memo dated 10th August 2021 filed by the State regarding survey of Kaggadasapura Lake
- Compliance Memo dated 8th April 2022 filed by the State regarding Begur and Subramanyapura Lakes
- Affidavit of the State dated 8th April 2022 regarding Kaggadasapura Lake
- Compliance Memo of the State dated 8th April 2022 regarding Krishnarajapura Lake
- BBMP’s Affidavit dated 19th July 2022, of Designated Officer (BBMP) regarding Subramanyapura and Begur lake
- BBMP’s Affidavit dated 1st September 2022, of Designated Officer (BBMP) regarding Begur lake
- BBMP’s Affidavit dated 17th November 2022 regarding Subramanyapura and Begur lake
- BBMP’s Affidavit dated 17th November, 2022 in response to IA 2-23 re mallathalli lake
- Submission Note dated 3rd February 2023 by State regarding Subramanyapura lake
- BBMP’s Affidavit dated 3rd March 2023, in response to IA 2/2023 in WP 29107/2019 regarding Mallathalli Lake
- BBMP’s Compliance Affidavit dated 1st August, 2023 in WP 38401/2014.
- BBMP’s Affidavit dated 4th September, 2023 regarding action plan for Lakes.
- BBMP’s Affidavit dated 4th September, 2023 regarding action plan for SWD.
- State Government’s Compliance Affidavit dated 4th September 2023 regarding Complaining Authority for lakes and raja kaluves/SWD
Affidavits by KTCDA
- G.O. RD 365 LGP 2013, Bangalore dated 09-12-2013, in compliance with WP 817/2008, regarding constituting Apex Committee for proper maintenance, development and protection of lakes/ tanks
- G.O. UDD 148 MNJ 2013, Bangalore dated 18-09-2013, in compliance with WP 817/2008, regarding constituting a Committee for proper maintenance and protection of lakes/ tanks in Bangalore Metropolitan Area. Click here for the G.O.s.
- Compendium of Government of Karnataka Orders in compliance with Karnataka High Court directions in Contempt Case, regarding constitution of Lake Protection Committees state wide. And also other related GOs.
- G.O. RD 32 LGB 2015, Bangalore dated 24-06-2021, in compliance with WP 817/2008, regarding constituting a District Level Committee for proper maintenance and protection of lakes/ tanks in all districts of Karnataka (except those covered by limits of Municipal Corporations and Municipal Councils, for which separate Committees are set up)
- BBMP Order Special Division (Properties)/ PR/ 1817/2021-22 dated 13-08-2021 in compliance with WP 38401/2014 regarding the appointment of Tahsildars in BBMP office to oversee removal of encroachment in lakes/tanks.
- Government Circular RD32 LGB2015, dated 14-07-2021, regarding protection of lakes and tanks mentioned in Revenue Records irrespective of the presence or absence of water in them, issued by the Revenue Department
- Government Circular UDD 126 Coordination 2021, dated 11-08-2021, regarding removal of encroachment and unauthorized construction in the 30m buffer zone around the outer boundary of all lakes in compliance with the Court Order in WP 38401/2014
- Government Notification UDD 11 BMR2017 dated 20 July 2019 determining No Development Zone around Lakes and Raja Kaluves
- Daily Orders of Karnataka High Court in WP 38218/2013 regarding protection of T G Halli Watershed.
- As per the Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority Act, 2014, regarding appointment of “Designated Officers” for lakes in minor irrigation superintendence, Karnataka Lake Conservation and Development Authority has issued a notification to the concerned offices. – Latest
Public Interest Litigations relating to Bellandur Lake complex
Documentation relating to Lake Protection and Rehabilitation activities of ESG, and other useful documents
- Wise Use, Conservation, Protection, Rehabilitation and Appropriate Governance of Lakes as Commons in Karnataka in English, click here and to read in Kannada, click here.
- Submission of wise use practices for the protection, management and rehabilitation of lakes in Karnataka with special emphasis on Bangalore and other urban areas, click here.
- Comic Strip on Consequences of Privatisation of Lakes in Bangalore, click here.
- Independent Report On Status of Lakes in Bangalore Under Lake Development Authority, click here.
- Survey of Irrigation Tanks as Wetland Bird Habitat in the Bangalore Area, India (1989), click here.
- Performance audit on Conservation and Ecological restoration of Lakes under the jurisdiction of Lake Development Authority and Urban Local Bodies (2015) by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, click here.
- Karnataka Legislature’s Joint House Committee reports, Part 1 and Part 2 ,on Encroachment of Government Lands in Bangalore City/ Urban District
- EMPRI report “Inventorisation of Water Bodies in Bangalore Metropolitan Area (BMA)”. Final Volume I, Final Volume II South, Final Volume II North, Final Volume II East, Final Volume II Anekal.
- December 2019 Advertisement by the Government of Karnataka stating its policy of beautifying and developing Tank and Lakes under Corporate Social Responsibility Scheme.
- Final Report of Technical Committee for Inspection of Three Breached Tanks in BBMP Limits and for Suggestions To Prevent Further Such Incidents, dated 20th January 2020