If the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) 2016 directions with respect to buffer zones around the lakes and stormwater drains were implemented, it would result in the demolition of 95% of buildings in Bengaluru, the Karnataka government has told the Supreme Court.

Besides, the state would be forced to pay a compensation of Rs three lakh crore to the people. The green tribunal has enlarged the buffer zone specified in 2015 revised master plan, which was statutory in character, and declared it as a no-construction zone, it said.

In a written note, Karnataka’s Advocate General Udaya Holla had told a three-judge bench presided over by Justice A K Sikri that the NGT ordered for maintaining a buffer zone of 25 m as a no-development zone, and demolition of all constructions falling in the area.

“Tertiary stormwater is in front of every house/building. None of the plots/sites in Bengaluru, barring a few, measure more than 50x80 ft. Therefore, if the impugned order is to be given effect to, nearly 95% of all buildings will have to be demolished,” he said.

According to the BBMP’s map of primary and secondary stormwater drains of Bengaluru, their total strength aggregated to 856.74 km. Consequently, the buffer zone required to be kept in BBMP aggregated to 21,400 acres. In addition, the increased buffer zone in respect to lakes aggregated to 11,000 acres within the BBMP area. Thus, the total buffer zone with no development required to be kept totalled to 32,400 acres, which is equivalent to 131 sq km. If the tertiary storm water drain is also taken into account, virtually, the whole of Bengaluru will have to be kept vacant as a buffer zone with no construction.

Sections 60 and 69 of the Karnataka Town Planning Act mandated the state to pay the market value to the owners of the land if it was required to be kept as an open area. 

“Taking into consideration, the conservative market value of Rs 10 crore an acre, the total increased buffer zone would require the state to pay a compensation of over Rs 3,00,000 crore,” the top law officer of the state said. 

The state government also claimed there are existing 31,500 buildings in the increased buffer zone of lakes and 19.40 lakh in increased buffer zones of stormwater drains.

The top court is to resume hearing on Tuesday on a batch of appeals filed by the Karnataka government and others, against the NGT’s May 4, 2016 order for maintaining a buffer zone and a green belt of 75 metres in case of lakes, 50 metres for primary, 35 metres for secondary and 25 metres for tertiary rajakaluves.