Art of Liv­ing gets green nod for fest at Ya­muna, but fined ` 5cr

Bars such events in fu­ture, says au­thor­i­ties should have ‘ap­plied mind’

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - HT Cor­re­spon­dents let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

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.

CON­TIN­UED ON P10

RE­LATED RE­PORTS, P10

RAVI CHOUDHARY/ HT

Sol­diers build a float­ing bridge across the Ya­muna river in New Delhi for the Art of Liv­ing’s three-day World Cul­ture Fes­ti­val in which 3 lakh peo­ple are ex­pected to par­tic­i­pate.

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