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NGT says AoL damaged Yamuna floodplain, but limits cost to Rs 5cr

08 December 2017

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 previous year.

The green court also asked the capital's lead planning body, the Delhi Development Authority, to do a fresh assessment of how much money would be required to restore the damaged floodplains.

If the restoration costs more that the Rs 5 crore deposited by the, the AoL would have to pay the extra.

AoL, meanwhile, said it will move to country's Supreme Court against the NGT verdict.

The AoL had held the World Culture Festival in March a year ago in which it had constructed a stage over an area of seven acres on the Yamuna floodplains.

The bench, however, did not impose any further fine, ordering that the amount of Rs 5 crore AoL had submitted earlier would be used to restore the floodplains.

However, NGT directed the organisers of the event to pay a fine of 744,262 USA dollars (INR 50 million) as compensation for the environmental damage the event is likely to cause to the floodplains.

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The forum had imposed the fine as interim environmental compensation for the damage caused by the event and had declared that if the cost of restoration exceeded Rs 5 crore then the DDA would be entitled to recover the same from the foundation itself.

The foundation, however, said it would approach the Supreme Court with the issue: "disappointed with the decision taken by the NGT for damaging Yamuna floodplains during its World Culture Festival". We are not in agreement with the verdict.

However, it refused to decide whether AoL was authorized to hold the festival on Yamuna floodplains or not saying it is beyond its jurisdiction. Our submissions have not been dealt with/considered.

The tribunal rapped the DDA for 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 environmental laws.

The verdict comes after a report by an environmental experts panel accused the organisation of causing extensive damage to the Yamuna floodplains in Delhi during the World Culture Festival in 2016. It should have considered the request for permission in accordance with environmental laws in force.

Stating that it was committed to work towards the good of the society, the AoL said it was confident of getting justice from the apex court.

NGT says AoL damaged Yamuna floodplain, but limits cost to Rs 5cr