The National Green Tribunal on Wednesday directed the Principal Committee, constituted for rejuvenation of Yamuna, to inspect the site on river floodplains where a three-day festival was organised by Art of Living (AOL) under the patronage of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar ordered the Principal Committee to assess the damage caused to Yamuna flood plains and submit a final report within two weeks. The Principal Committee was constituted by the tribunal for implementation of ‘Maili se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalisation Project 2017’ and is headed by Secretary of Ministry of Water Resources.

b’Chunks of construction material and security clearance tickets of Delhi police can be seen strewn across the site | Source: ScoopWhoop/Ahmed Kamal’

It also comprises of three experts members — Professor C R Babu, Professor A K Gosain and Professor Brij Gopal. The green panel also asked AOL to file its reply within three days on an application which had alleged the spiritual guru had termed its earlier order as “politically motivated”.

During the brief hearing, the counsel appearing for AOL refuted the contentions of Manoj Misra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan who had said that the spiritual guru should be held responsible for the statement made before media allegedly “scandalising the tribunal and interfering with dispensation of justice by the tribunal”.

The tribunal also asked AOL whether the foundation has deposited the environment compensation as directed by it on March 9 for damaging Yamuna’s biodiversity. The counsel for AOL replied that it was ready to furnish the amount as bank guarantee instead of “payment of balance amount”.

b’Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar during the opening day of the three-day long World Culture Festival on the banks of the Yamuna in New Delhi | Source: PTI’

“Keep your bank guarantee with you,” the bench said while posting the matter for next hearing on August 2. On 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.

It had slapped fine of Rs five lakh on Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and Rs one lakh on the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) for not discharging statutory functions. 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.

(Feature image source: PTI)