NGT irked with DDA

Modesto Morganelli
Mag 12, 2017

Earlier in April, Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had claimed that the Centre, Delhi government and the National Green Tribunal (NGT) should be held responsible for the damage to the Yamuna floodplains.

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) here on Thursday told the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that it didn't have the expertise to fix the damage caused to the Yamuna floodplains during the Art of Living (AOL) cultural event past year and also apologised for questioning the court's findings in the case.

The NGT also questioned the DDA why its officers did not act upon when Art of Living was violating the set rules and conditions in the wake of organizing their program.

A report of the seven-member expert committee, headed by former Secretary of Water Resources Ministry Shashi Shekhar, told the National Green Tribunal (NGT) about the ecological damage caused to over 300 acres of Yamuna floodplains due to the festival past year. It said that the civic body should have exercised proper caution while granting approval to the cultural extravaganza. "If they granted permission to you (AoL), then they have some responsibility".

"There were no violations", the DDA's counsel told the NGT on Thursday. You can not make sweeping comments on people who have devoted their lives to environment.

The principal bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, however, didn't seem to be convinced with the DDA's comments and observed that the land owning agency should have been more cautious while giving permission to hold the event.

Bansal, however, clarified that he did not intend to cast aspersions but was just questioning the basis of the findings and the technology used by the expert panel.

The DDA had thrice rejected the NGO's application for organising the three-day World Culture Festival in March 2016 before finally agreeing. "What on earth made you give permission?" the bench asked. "I have not breached any condition nor is there is no allegation that any of the conditions we've breached", he said.

Next hearing in the case is on May 15.

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