On Thursday, the National Green Tribunal held Sri Sri Ravishankar’s Art of Living group responsible for the damage caused to the Yamuna floodplains for holding of the event World Cultural Festival in 2016 there. Last year, a fine of Rs 5 crore was imposed on the Art of Living, which was paid by the foundation. The fine paid by the Art of Living was to be used to restore the plains however, no further fine will be imposed on the Art of Living foundation, it was revealed.
NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar said that it is Delhi Development Authority’s (DDA) task to assess the damage caused by the festival and carry out the restoration work on the floodplains, after the Art of Living deposits the remaining fine amount. The NGT also said that it was not under its jurisdiction to decide whether AoL was authorised to hold the festival on Yamuna floodplains.
NGT further slammed DDA for its inability to do its job however, the Green Tribunal did not impose any fine or penalty on DDA.
Earlier this year, the expert panel headed by Shashi Shekhar, Secretary of Ministry of Water Resources, told the National Green Tribunal that rehabilitation of Yamuna floodplains destroyed by AOL’s ‘World Culture Festival’ will cost Rs 13.29 crore.
The event was organised by spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar’s Art of Living (AOL) between March 11 and 13, 2016 on the banks of Yamuna. Despite the controversy around the festival, the Art of Living is ready to take it to the next level and it was announced that the next World Culture Festival will be held at the Melbourne cricket grounds in Australia.
Meanwhile, the National Green Tribunal on December 6, directed the Delhi, Haryana and Punjab governments to file a detailed action plan by tomorrow to tackle air pollution. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar passed the direction while observing that the air quality in the national capital was never normal. “You all (states) tell us what steps you will take at what level of pollution. What are your normal steps to check pollution,” the bench said.
CNN-News 18 reports that Art of Living has said that the foundation will approach the Supreme Court. The Art of Living in a statement against the NGT holding them responsible for damage to Yamuna floodplains said, “We maintain that we have not caused any damage. The judgement is erroneous and untenable. Our submissions have not been considered at all.”