The National Green Tribunal has held Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living responsible for causing damage and environmental degradation of the Yamuna flood plains by holding a three-day cultural festival last year.
This came after the green body originally fined the AoL Rs 5 crore, which Ravi Shankar’s organisation had deposited with much reluctance.
The NGT, however, refused to impose additional fine adding that the DDA should use the deposited amount to restore the floodplains and bill the AoL if the cost was more or return to it the balance if the cost was below that amount.
The AoL termed the verdict as “erroneous and untenable” and said they would move the Supreme Court against it.
“The Art of Living will approach the Supreme Court. We are not in agreement with the verdict. AoL is disappointed with the decision taken by the NGT for damaging Yamuna floodplains during its World Culture Festival.
“We do not agree with the verdict. Our submissions have not been dealt with/considered. We will appeal to the Supreme Court. We are confident that we will get justice before the Supreme Court,” AoL was quoted by PTI.
The AoL’s cultural extravaganza organised in early 2016 had caused widespread outrage, but both the central government and Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal government had lent their collective support to the Ravi Shankar. Ravi Shankar, a known BJP amnd RSS sypathiser, had also campaigned for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
The NGT on Thursday ordered that the Yamuna riverbed should not be used to hold any cultural activity of this kind in future.
It said, “We hold and declare that AoL is responsible for causing damage and environmental degradation of the floodplain of river Yamuna limited to the area that was awarded to it by DDA and the State of UP, in terms of the report of the High Powered Committee.”
The AoL had organised the World Culture Festival from 11-13 March, 2016, on the floodplains and constructed an oval-shaped stage over an area of seven acres.
The tribunal rapped the DDA over its failure to maintain the natural features and ecology of the Yamuna floodplains and said it has failed to exercise its statutory duty in consonance with the environmental laws in force, reported news agency PTI.
The bench, comprising the NGT chiarman Justice Swatantra Kumar, Justice Jawad Rahim and expert member B S Sajwan, said that even the Delhi Pollution Control Committee had failed to exercise due caution in granting permission to AoL. It should have considered the request for permission in accordance with environmental laws in force.
Before the pronouncement of the judgement, the NGT was informed that Justice R S Rathore, who had earlier heard the matter, had recused from the bench.