Expert committee seeks more time to quantify damages by the Art of Living

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New Delhi | Published: September 30, 2016 6:44:55 PM

The tentative cost of rejuvenating Yamuna riverbed, damaged due to a cultural extravaganza organised by the Art of Living, can be calculated only after November as the area is still inundated by flood water, an expert panel has told the National Green Tribunal.

The expert committee, set up by the green panel, had said the 'World Culture Festival' extravaganza has "completely destroyed" the riverbed. (PTI)The expert committee, set up by the green panel, had said the ‘World Culture Festival’ extravaganza has “completely destroyed” the riverbed. (PTI)

The tentative cost of rejuvenating Yamuna riverbed, damaged due to a cultural extravaganza organised by the Art of Living, can be calculated only after November as the area is still inundated by flood water, an expert panel has told the National Green Tribunal.

The seven-member principal committee, headed by Water Resources Secretary Shashi Shekhar, told a bench headed by Justice Jawad Rahim that the task of conducting survey for determining cost of restoration could not be completed due to floods in the area.

“We see the letter from Sashi Shekhar, Secretary Water Resources, dated September 9, wherein he has mentioned that the task of conducting survey for determining the cost of restoration to the environment, ecology and bio-diversity could not be completed due to non-favourable conditions.

“He has indicated that selection of dumping site etc can be done by Delhi Development Authority under the supervision of Principal Committee only after month of November, 2016. At present, the area is inundated and is not accessible. He has therefore expressed his difficulty in submitting the report,” the bench noted.

The NGT put the matter for consideration on October 7.

On August 10, the bench had directed the committee to quantify the damage and furnish tentative cost for restoration of the area and allowed the panel to engage any specialised agency for the purpose.

Earlier, the expert committee, set up by the green panel, had said the ‘World Culture Festival’ extravaganza has “completely destroyed” the riverbed.

The tribunal had directed the expert panel comprising senior scientists and experts from National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, IIT, Delhi and other agencies to inspect the site of the World Culture Festival held in March this year.

Earlier, AOL foundation had deposited Rs 4.75 crore “environment compensation” with DDA as directed by NGT for damaging Yamuna’s biodiversity.

NGT had on March 9 refused to prohibit the festival but asked it to pay a compensation of Rs 5 crore for damaging biodiversity and aquatic life of Yamuna.

On March 11, AOL had moved a plea seeking four weeks to deposit the amount after which the tribunal had allowed it to deposit Rs 25 lakh on that day and granted three weeks to pay the balance.

Sri Sri Ravishankar’s Art of Living had termed the NGT expert panel report as “unscientific and illogical” and sought a fresh probe by an “unbiased” panel.

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