AoL guilty of damaging Yamuna flood plains, says NGT

AoL guilty of damaging Yamuna flood plains, says NGT

The National Green Tribunal on Thursday held the 'Art of Living Foundation' of spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar responsible for causing damage and environmental degradation of the Yamuna flood plains here by holding a three-day cultural extravaganza last year.

The green panel ordered the Delhi Development Authority to use the Rs 5 crore fine already deposited by AoL to restore the floodplains. It, however, said that if the restoration costs more, the bill must be sent to the organisation. In case the cost is less, the difference amount must be returned to AoL, it said.

AoL termed the verdict as "erroneous and untenable" and said they would move the Supreme Court against it.

In its order, the NGT bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar stated that the Yamuna riverbed should not be used for any cultural activity of this kind in future.

"We hold and declare that AoL is responsible for causing damage and environmental degradation of the flood plain of river Yamuna limited to the area that was awarded to it by DDA and the State of UP, in terms of the report of the High Powered Committee," the NGT said in its judgement.

AoL had organised the World Culture Festival from March 11-13, 2016, on the flood plains and constructed an oval-shaped stage over an area of seven acres. Activist Manoj Mishra approached the NGT, claiming the event had caused severe damage to the river and floodplains.

The tribunal rapped the DDA for its failure to maintain the natural features and ecology of the Yamuna floodplains and said it has failed to exercise its statutory duty in consonance with environmental laws. It also found that the Delhi Pollution Control Committee had failed to exercise due caution in granting permission to AoL.

It, however, refrained from imposing environmental compensation on the DDA on the ground that it has already planned construction of a bio-diversity park and improvement of floodplains from its own funds.

The order

DDA to use fine of Rs 5 cr to restore floodplains

Bill AoL if cost exceeds fine amount

Return difference to AoL if it costs less

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