NEW DELHI: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday allowed the Art of Living Foundation’s three-day cultural extravaganza to proceed on the floodplains of the Yamuna from Friday but imposed a fine of Rs 5 crore on it as environmental compensation.
The NGT also slapped fines of Rs 5 lakh on the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and Rs 1 lakh on the Delhi Pollution Control Committee for not discharging their functions.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, asked the foundation headed by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to deposit Rs 5 crore before the event on March 11.
Soon after the order, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said that they were not satisfied with it and would appeal against it. The NGT clearance came on a day when the Delhi High Court described the event as a disaster from the ecological point of view. The tribunal also asked the foundation to give an undertaking by Thursday that enzymes would not be released into the Yamuna and that no further degradation of environment would happen. It also directed the foundation to develop the entire area in question into a biodiversity park.
The tribunal’s order came on pleas by NGOs and environmentalists who had sought the cancellation of the event, saying it would seriously endanger the fragile ecosystem on the riverbed. In its 10-page order, the NGT said the authorities had failed to do their duties and said, “The Art of Living Foundation has not obtained any permission from the police department, fire department and from the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga rejuvenation. All these authorties have failed to exercise due diligence in fulfilment of their public duties.”
“It is evident that the floodplains have been drastically tampered with while destroying the natural flow of the river, reeds, grasses, natural vegetation on the river bed. It has further disturbed the aquatic life of the river and destroyed water bodies and wet lands on the flood plains.”
The NGT also pulled up the DDA for giving permission for the event without checking other facts. “Cultural activity could be recreational but the entire construction of ramps, roads, accumulation of debris, alteration of the natural topography and removal of natural vegetation from the floodplains can’t be said to be recreational. It is a complete project in itself and the DDA ought to have applied its mind,” it said.