Art of Living gets green nod for fest at Yamuna, but fined ` 5cr
Bars such events in future, says authorities should have ‘applied mind’
The National Green Tribunal on Wednesday cleared the World Culture Festival on the Yamuna floodplain in Delhi despite fears of irreparable damage to the area’s delicate ecosystem.
The green court has said spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living Foundation will have to pay a fine of Rs5 crore before the three- day World Culture Festival opens on Friday.
“For the damage caused to the environment, ecology, biodiversity and aquatic life of the river, the Foundation should be held liable for its restoration in all respects. In that regard… we impose an Environmental Compensation, initially of Rs 5 crore,” NGT (National Green Tribunal) chairperson justice Swatanter Kumar said in his order.
The rest of the fine amount will be decided after an NGT-appointed committee assesses the damage to the floodplain.
The Art of Living Foundation will appeal against the green court’s order. “We appreciate all those who came in support
of World Culture Festival. The festival will go as per planned and since we have not violated any rules we will appeal against the NGT order,” a spokesperson said.
The event, however, is yet to receive fire, police and structural safety clearances. Delhi Fire Service chief AK Sharma said they were yet to give permission while Delhi police said they would give their nod only after
receiving a clearance from all the other agencies. After posing tough questions, the tribunal also slapped a fine of Rs 5 lakh on the Delhi Development Authority and Rs1 lakh on the Delhi Pollution Control Committee for not discharging statutory functions.
“DDA ought to have applied its mind before granting permission,” the NGT said, barring the DDA from green-lighting such events in future. The green court also asked Art of Living to give an undertaking by Thursday that bio-enzymes will not be released into the Yamuna and that no further degradation of environment will happen. The tribunal has also directed that the entire area in question be developed into a biodiversity park.
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