The central bench of National Green Tribunal on Tuesday directed the state government to remove encroachments within 50 metre perimeter of the Upper Lake.
The two-member bench comprising judicial member justice Dalip Singh and expert member PS Rao asked the government to ensure that there is no further construction, alteration or addition in the existing constructions between 50 to 300 metre perimeter of the lake.
The next hearing in the case is on Wednesday. The Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been asked to complete erecting of minarets around Upper Lake so that encroachments could be properly identified.
The tribunal said it was not satisfied with the information submitted by BMC, terming it as "sketchy". The NGT ordered the civic body to submit details like on how many kilometers the minarets have been erected and how much was left.
Both mayor and BMC officials along with counsels for the state government and BMC faced some tough questions from the bench which expresses its concern over delays in the initiatives and various measures that had to be taken by the authorities for the protection of the lake.
The tribunal questioned BMC why there had been undue delay in the procurement of amphibious excavators. (It is a type of construction equipment that can perform dredging while afloat in shallow water. An amphibious excavator is better adapted for removing silt clay, clearing silted trenches, swampland operation and low water area).
The counsel for BMC said that as the civic elections had been announced, the approval for procurements couldn’t be sought from the BMC's general council meeting.
The counsel demanded that the mayor-in-council be empowered to take decisions and procure equipment for Upper Lake. Responding to the request, the tribunal instructed BMC to send the matter to the state government for appropriate action.
On the procurement of dumpers for ferrying the weeds/water hyacinth and other waste materials from the lake, the counsel for the BMC said these would be procured within a month or so.
The bench questioned why BMC was not removing the encroachments within 50 metre perimeter of the lake till the final demarcation line of the catchment was decided in accordance with the recommendations of the CEPT master plan on Upper lake-whether it should 100 metre, 200 metre of 500 metre.
The bench also instructed the BMC to be careful regarding de-silting the lake bed and removing debris from its depths as the same could lead to seepage of lake water into ground below and its drying as had happened with many water bodies in Rajasthan.