The state of storm water drains in the city of Bangalore is deplorable. Due to unchecked discharge of sewage, encroachment and consequent clogging, the drains are in dismal condition and cannot fulfil the purpose for which they were built in the first place. This situation poses a risk to the health and safety of the citizens of Bangalore and their right to a clean and healthy environment guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. This is in addition to the risks faced by residents of illegal structures that have encroached onto the land on which the storm water drains are built.
The present petition is a public interest petition filed in the High Court of Karnataka on behalf of the Citizens Action Group seeking the proper maintenance of storm water drains in the city. The key focus of this petition was to ensure that the BBMP and BWSSB separate the storm water drains from the sewage lines. The storm water drains empty into the lakes of Bangalore and the flow of sewage into these lakes causes widespread pollution. In the petition the prayers sought are directions to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) to ensure regular maintenance and de-silting of storm water drains, putting up of treatment plants before the water is let out into the lakes, to take measures to ensure that sewage is not flowing into the lakes through storm water drains and to develop a set of comprehensive guidelines and policy for management of the drainage system in Bangalore.
The High Court on 1/12/2014 passed a landmark order directing the BBMP and the BWSSB to take steps to ensure that no storm water drains that open into Bangalore’s 183 lakes should contain any sewage, effluents, or industrial effluent. This must be strictly prevented by taking all necessary steps including the sealing of outlets and initiating penal action against any person or party releasing pollutants into storm-water drains.
Following this order, the BWSSB has been submitting periodic status reports to the High Court on the action taken by it to clean up storm water drains leading into lakes. Till date it has submitted 5 status reports.