NGT directs assessment of damage to Yamuna riverbed by Art of Living fest

news
26 May 2016

The National Green Tribunal on Wednesday directed the principal committee constituted for rejuvenation of Yamuna to inspect the site on river floodplains where a three-day festival was organised by Art of Living (AOL) under the patronage of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and assess the damage caused by the festival.

A bench headed by NGT chairman Justice Swatanter Kumar ordered the committee to assess the damage caused to Yamuna flood plains and submit a final report within two weeks.

The NGT also summoned all heads of departments concerned with civic amenities and cleanliness, including the divisional commissioner, to appear before it on 31 May to explain why the Yamuna river cannot be cleaned.

The principal committee, constituted by the NGT for implementation of 'Maili se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalisation Project 2017', is headed by secretary in the ministry of water resources. It also comprises of three experts members - Professor C R Babu, Professor A K Gosain and Professor Brij Gopal.

The green panel also asked AOL to file its reply within three days on an application which had alleged the spiritual guru had termed its earlier order as "politically motivated".

During the brief hearing, the counsel appearing for AOL refuted the contentions of Manoj Misra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan who had said that the spiritual guru should be held responsible for the statement made before media allegedly "scandalising the tribunal and interfering with dispensation of justice by the tribunal".

The tribunal also asked AOL whether the foundation has deposited the environment compensation as directed by it on 9 March for damaging Yamuna's biodiversity.

The counsel for AOL replied that it was ready to furnish the amount as bank guarantee instead of "payment of balance amount".

"Keep your bank guarantee with you," the bench said while posting the matter for next hearing on 2 August.

On 9 March, the green panel had cleared the decks for the three-day cultural extravaganza of AOL on the flood plains of Yamuna river but had imposed a fine of Rs5 crore on it as environmental compensation.

It had slapped fine of Rs5 lakh on Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and Rs1 lakh on the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) for not discharging statutory functions.

The tribunal's order had come on the pleas by NGOs and environmentalists who had sought cancellation of the festival on the ground that it would seriously endanger the fragile ecosystem on the riverbed.





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