Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board has issued an order instructing M/s Mantri Techzone Pvt Ltd / M/s Manipal ETA Infotech Ltd to stop the construction of the Special Economic Zone, residential and commercial buildings coming up on 72 acres of land that lies between Bellandur and Agara lakes, in South Bengaluru.
Post the Upa Lokayukta’s comments on Mantri SEZ in a meeting held on December 20, 2013, KIADB’s 327th Board Meeting discussed the matter and passed an order directing Mantri Techzone Pvt Ltd to stop the construction with immediate effect.
According to the minutes of the KIADB Board meeting, the Board took cognisance of the letter written by Lake Development Authority dated September 23 – 24, 2013 and Technical report of ENVIS No.55 on, Conservation of Bellandur Wetland.
Following this, the Board decided to reiterate its decision taken in the meeting held on July 16, 2013. Board asked Mantri Techzone Pvt Ltd to fully comply with the rules set by Ministry of Environment and Ecology, Lake Development Authority and Karnataka State Pollution Control Board.
The KIADB has also decided to keep the revalidation approval accorded to Mantri Techzone on October 11, 2013, in temporary suspension, and directed the firm to seek necessary approval of State High Level Clearance Committee for modified approved layout plan and extension of time to implement the project.
The order letter dated January 2, 2013 along with the minutes of the Board Meeting was submitted to Upa Lokayukta Justice Subhash Adi in a meeting held on January 3, 2014.
BBMP commissioner Lakshminarayan, BBMP Chief Conservator of Forests Brijesh Kumar, BWSSB Chairman M S Ravishankar, KSPCB Chairman Vaman Acharya, BDA Commissioner T Sham Bhatt, KIADB Chief Executive Officer and Executive Member of KIADB Mohan Chakravarthi and KIADB Secretary Gudagi. Engineers from BBMP, BWSSB, BDA and KSPCB were also present.
‘BBMP’s order being violated’
Residents of Koramangala, complained to the Upa Lokayukta that the company continues to construct in the night, in spite of the order passed by BBMP to Mantri Tech Zone to stop the construction. Nitin Sheshadri, one of the concerned residents, said, “Mantri is throwing sand on BBMP’s face and continuing to work in the night. They have doubled the work by making use of more JCBs.”
Chief Conservator of Forest, BBMP, Brijesh Kumar said, “This has been brought to the notice of Bommanahalli Joint Commissioner and he has promised to lodge a police complaint. I am yet to follow up on that.”
Upa Lokayukta asked the BBMP Commissioner to remove the equipments from the site in order to ensure no construction is carried out.
False declaration to BWSSB
Residents brought to the notice of Upa Lokayukta how the promoters declared false number of flats to procure No Objection Certificate for 4.5 million litres a day of cauvery water to BWSSB.
While procuring NOC from BWSSB, the promoters declared the construction of two buildings with basement and ground floor for 18 flats as against 18 floors. “18 flats looks very small, but 18 floors will surely have more than 18 flats. The entire Koramangala area does not receive as much water, as promised by BWSSB to Mantri,” remarked one of the residents. The copy of the said NOC can be seen here and here.
BWSSB Chairman M S Ravishankar promised to look into the matter and inspect the NOC against the plan and take necessary steps.
‘Detailed study on Bellandur wetland’
KIADB Chief Executive Officer Mohan Chakravarthi, who has also been an ex-professor of IISC, requested Upa Lokayukta to do a detailed study on the wetland and not rely on the general study done by T V Ramachandran. He said, “The IISC report on wetlands is a very general study. They are not saying whether the whole Bellandur area will be affected or only a part. Instead a detailed study should be done on those survey numbers on which the project is coming up.”
Agreeing to the point made by Mohan, KSPCB Chairman Vaman Acharya added, “We need not stop the entire project. First we need to identify which are the sensitive areas and then take necessary action.”
Upa Lokayukta acknowledged the point made by KIADB CEO and KSPCB Chairman. The land is demarcated in the City Development Plan (CDP) as sensitive area and subject to the all the byelaws, action will be taken but first a study is a must,” said Justice Adi.
Before asking for a detailed study, Justice Adi has requested KSPCB Chairman Acharya to inspect the site and check for any violation. Justice Adi noted that except for Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) and waste management, the project has violated all other environment and ecology rules.
State Environment Ministry summoned
Justice Adi noted that the KIADB, BWSSB and KSPCB had given permission to the controversial project on the grounds that the the project had received Environmental Clearance.
The project had received approval from KSPCB just before Vaman Acharya was appointed as Chairman of KSPCB. However he said, he was aware of the developments and told Upa Lokayukta that KSPCB is concerned only with the disposal of waste at the time of construction activity and the Sewage Treatment Plant.
Justice Adi summoned the Principal Secretary of State Forest Ecology and Environment Department in the next meeting to be held on January 17, 2013.
No clarifications from Mantri
Mails by Citizen Matters sent to M/s Mantri Developers Limited, sent to the mail ids of Public Relation Officer Sarva Mangala Koti, the PR agency – Gutenberg Public Relations and the contact email of Sushil Mantri seeking clarifications have not been answered.