Art Of Living Responsible For Damaging Yamuna Floodplains: NGT
In a setback to the Art of Living (AoL) Foundation of spiritual leader Ravi Shankar, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on December 7 held it responsible for causing damage and environmental degradation of the Yamuna floodplains by holding a three-day cultural extravaganza last year.
While refusing to impose an additional environment fine on the AoL which has already deposited Rs 5 crore, the NGT ordered the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to use this amount to restore the floodplains and adjust the amount according to its requirements.
The AoL termed the verdict as "erroneous and untenable", and said they would move the Supreme Court against it.
"The Art of Living will approach the Supreme Court. We are not in agreement with the verdict. The AoL is disappointed with the decision taken by the NGT for damaging Yamuna floodplains during its World Culture Festival, it said.
Ordering that the Yamuna riverbed should not be used to hold any cultural activity of this kind in future, the green panel directed the DDA to assess the damage caused on floodplains and compute the cost of restoration in line with the recommendations of the expert panel appointed by it.
"We hold and declare that the AoL is responsible for causing damage and environmental degradation of the floodplain of the river Yamuna limited to the area that was awarded to it by the DDA and the state of UP, in terms of the report of the High Powered Committee," the NGT said in its judgement.
The AoL had organised the World Culture Festival from March 11-13, 2016, on the floodplains and constructed an oval-shaped stage over an area of seven acres.
The tribunal also rapped the DDA over its failure to maintain the natural features and ecology of the Yamuna floodplains, and said it had failed to exercise its statutory duty in consonance with the environmental laws in force.
It, however, refrained from imposing environmental compensation on the DDA on the ground that it had already planned construction of a bio-diversity park and improvement of floodplains from its own funds.
The bench, also comprising Justice Jawad Rahim and expert member B S Sajwan, said that even the Delhi Pollution Control Committee had failed to exercise due caution in granting permission to the AoL.
With inputs from Housing News