DELHI: The Art of Living (AOL) foundation has deposited Rs 4.75 crore environment compensation with the Delhi Development Authority as directed by the National Green Tribunal for damage caused due to the 'World Culture Festival’ organized by the group in Yamuna flood plains in March this year.
The AoL under the patronage of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Monday reiterated it stand that though they have deposited the money last week but they have not caused any damage to the environment. The AoL has been accused of as having done irreparable environmental damage to the Yamuna floodplains due to the event.
Advocate appearing for DDA confirmed that Art of Living foundation has submitted a demand draft of Rs 4.75 crore as per the orders of the NGT on June 3.
“We would like to state that much of what has been said with reference to damage of the Yamuna floodplains is concocted and without any logical or scientific basis. Scientific evidence and data available with us make us believe that an unbiased investigation will reveal the truth about the allegations and our contention of causing no damage to air, water and soil will be vindicated,” said a AoL spokesperson.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar ordered the Principal Committee headed by Shashi Shekhar, Secretary of Ministry of Water Resources to assess the damage caused to Yamuna flood plains before June 10 and submit report by July 11.
The panel said that besides Shekhar, the inspection committee would comprise of senior scientist from National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, Professor C R Babu, Professor A K Gosain, Professor Brij Gopal and two more members.
The AoL was slammed for not depositing the environmental compensation imposed on it saying it was willful violation of its undertakings. It had earlier dismissed AOL's plea seeking its nod to accept the environment compensation as bank guarantee instead of payment of balance amount of Rs 4.75 crore.
March 9, the green panel had cleared the decks for the three-day cultural extravaganza of AOL on the flood plains of Yamuna river but had imposed a fine of Rs five crore on it as environmental compensation.
The tribunal's order had come on the pleas by NGOs and environmentalists who had sought cancellation of the festival on the ground that it would seriously endanger the fragile ecosystem on the riverbed.