HC directs Karnataka to start survey of Vrishabhavathi Valley

The Karnataka High Court has directed the state government to start a survey of the whole stretch of the Vrishabhavathi river to check encroachment and illegal construction on its banks from the Bengaluru Urban area until the limits of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). 

It did this after the CSIR-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (CSIR-NEERI) recommended a complete survey of the Vrishabhavathi river valley. “The survey should include complete details of illegal encroachments, buffer area to be maintained stormwater drain, agricultural runoff, actual boundaries of all the lakes, “  NEERI said.

The Court also directed the government to file an affidavit, setting a time limit for completing the survey.

The order was passed by a division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka, and Justice Suraj Govindaraj was in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by advocate and social activist Geetha Misra.

The bench directed the additional chief secretary and the Urban development department to hold a meeting of all authorities concerning the rejuvenation of the river.

In its report submitted to the court in compliance with its order, NEERI stated the city’s current estimated sewage waste generation is 1,440 MLD. It also pointed out that there are about 293 industries in the valley, and these industries generate hazardous waste of 2,680.152 per annum  

NEERI focused on two main issues: disposal of effluent, domestic and industrial wastewater, and solid waste, which must be addressed on priority to rejuvenate the river.

NEERI also made some recommendations in terms of short-term measures to be undertaken:
  • Check unauthorised developments around lakes
  • Prevent entry of waste
  • Fence along the stretch of the river to avoid solid waste dumping
  • The toll-free number to receive complaints about dumping
  • Mobile application to check illegal construction
  • Ban on use of phosphates in the manufacture of detergents
  • Stop illegal discharge of effluent
  • Survey of the whole stretch of river
  • Fence along the periphery of the river
  • Dredging and desilting
  • De-weeding and construction of silt traps/screens at inlet points
  • Diversion of sewage from existing stormwater drains