Art of Living Yamuna floodplains case: NGT reserves judgment

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The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Monday reserved that order in a case pertaining to the Art of Living (AOL) allegedly damaging the Yamuna floodplains during the three-day World Culture Festival in 2016.

Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

AOL's World Culture Festival, which was held in Delhi on the bank on Yamuna river, had grabbed headlines for allegedly polluting and damaging the Yamuna floodplain ecosystem.

The NGT had earlier slapped an interim fine Rs 5 crore on the Foundation for environmental damage while efforts were made to ascertain the exact costs of the damage. The Art of Living founder, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had said that the Centre, Delhi government and the National Green Tribunal should be held responsible for allowing his foundation to organise the World Culture Festival on the Yamuna floodplains in March 2016.

The National Green Tribunal had on October 3 directed the Delhi government to respond to the claim made by the Art of Living foundation that debris on the Yamuna banks existed prior to its three-day cultural extravaganza.

[AOL vs NGT: DDA says Yamuna floodplains restoration may take 10 years]

The AoL had contended that the event site was not an identified floodplain even after NGT's 2015 direction to the authorities to demarcate the floodplain, and hence it cannot even be considered a floodplain.

The AoL's contention came in the backdrop of an expert committee earlier telling the NGT that a whopping Rs 42.02 crore would be required to restore Yamuna floodplains which was ravaged due to the AoL cultural extravaganza.

AoL told the bench that the contention of the committee that compaction has been caused by the World Culture Festival organised by it was "erroneous and untenable" as the panel has not conducted any scientific test or geotechnical investigation of the soil density of the land.

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