NGT holds Art of Living Foundation responsible for damage to floodplain

Remigio Civitarese
Dicembre 8, 2017

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday (December 7) held liable Art of Living (AoL) for harming the ecosystem of the Yamuna floodplains by organizing three-day cultural festival a year ago and ordered AoL to compensate for the restoration works.

"We hold Art Of Living responsible for the damage to the Yamuna floodplains...."

The green panel ordered the Delhi Development Authority to use the Rs 5 crore fine already deposited by AoL to restore the floodplains.

AoL termed the verdict as "erroneous and untenable" and said they would move the Supreme Court against it. "DDA and irrigation dept is responsible for carrying out restoration and restitution work".

"We have never caused any damage to the environment but have in fact worked for preserving and reviving it through various environment-related projects over the years", the organisation said. The tribunal said that if the cost crossed Rs 5 crore, it would be recovered from AOL. Activist Manoj Mishra approached the NGT, claiming the event had caused severe damage to the river and floodplains. An expert committee, headed by water resources secretary Shashi Shekhar had stated in April that it could cost as much as Rs 13.29 crore to restore the floodplains. The ministry had said that as per a 2006 environment impact assessment report, no environmental clearance was needed for the festival. Our submissions have not been considered at all. Stating that it would appeal to the Supreme Court, the organisation said the World Culture Festival was conducted to "spread the message of global peace and harmony in diversity by bringing together spiritual and religious leaders, politicians, peacemakers and artists from across the world".

The Bench also added that if the total expense incurred is less than ₹5 crore, the remaining amount will have to be refunded to the organisation.

The tribunal had also heard arguments of the Delhi Development Authority, Delhi Pollution Control Committee and Art of Living.

AoL had contended that the event site was not an identified floodplain even after NGT's 2015 direction to the authorities to demarcate the floodplain, and hence it can not even be considered a floodplain.

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