NGT holds Art Of Living responsible for Yamuna floodplains damage

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living had organised a cultural festival on the banks of Yamuna in March last year

Reports say that more amount could be taken from the AOL if five crores fall short.

The NGT bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justices Jawed Rahim, Raghuvendra S Rathore and Bikram Singh Sajwan observed "regulating the right to hold cultural meeting is beyond their jurisdiction".

The green tribunal directed the Delhi Development Authority to utilise Rs 5 crore, paid by the Art of Living Foundation past year as fine, for restoring the floodplains.

The NGT had earlier slapped an interim fine Rs 5 crore on the AOL for environmental damage while efforts were made to ascertain the exact costs of the damage.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday held Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living responsible for the damage to the Yamuna floodplains caused by the holding of the World Culture Festival in 2016.

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The bench further added, "DDA failed to exercise its powers with regard to maintaining the ecology and floodplain".

The foundation on Thursday after the verdict issued a statement saying, "The Art of Living is disappointed with the decision taken by the NGT...."

Expressing "disappointment" over the the NGT verdict, the AoL claimed that it had complied with all environment norms and its submissions were not considered.

An expert committee, headed by Shashi Shekhar, Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, said in April that it would cost ₹13.29 crore and take nearly 10 years to restore the damaged floodplains. We do not agree with the verdict. Stating that it would appeal to the Supreme Court, the organisation said the World Culture Festival was conducted to "spread the message of global peace and harmony in diversity by bringing together spiritual and religious leaders, politicians, peacemakers and artists from across the world". "We are confident that we will get justice before the Supreme Court". The expert committee, headed by Shashi Shekhar, Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, also said in April that it would cost Rs 13.29 crore.

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