NEW DELHI: Suspense mounted today over the fate of the controversial three-day cultural extravaganza on the Yamuna flood plains with the National Green Tribunal posing tough questions on the event over which environmentalists have raised a banner of revolt.
While President Pranab Mukherjee pulled out of attending the valedictory function on Sunday, speculation raged today over whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the event on Friday.
Facing criticism, Art of Living Foundation chief Sri Sri Ravi Shankar rubbished allegations of any damage to ecology saying no tree has been felled and that they would build a biodiversity park in the area.
Amid concerns over security in the wake of fresh terror threats, the Home Ministry has directed Delhi Police to take all possible steps to ensure peace during the event and to ensure that no stampede-like situation arises.
All eyes were on the proceedings before the National Green Tribunal which questioned the Centre as to why no environmental clearance is required for erecting structures on the Yamuna plains for the event.
"You (MoEF) file an affidavit by tomorrow and tell us why no environmental clearance is needed for raising temporary structures on flood plains," a bench headed by NGT chairperson Swantanter Kumar said.
The direction came after the counsel appearing for Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) said that they have found no debris at the site when an expert team had visited and as per Environment Impact Assessment notification 2006, no environment clearance is needed for temporary structures.
The green panel also questioned the building of pontoon bridge by the army on the river bed for the festival and asked the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) counsel as to who gave the permission for setting it up.
DDA, Delhi government, MoEF said that they have no role in the grant of permission for setting up the pontoon bridge.
The NGT said it will pronounce its order tomorrow.