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Green court holds AoL responsible for Yamuna floodplains damage

Green court holds AoL responsible for Yamuna floodplains 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.

Taking cognizance of the High Power Committee (HPC) report, the bench held "there has been grave environmental degradation and AoL is responsible with the restoration and restitution of the land which was given to them by DDA. If the restoration and restitution cost less than 5 crores then the rest amount will be refunded to AoL", the bench said.

"The DDA has failed to perform its statutory functions of maintaining the ecology".

An expert committee headed by Shashi Shekhar, Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, in April said that Rs 42.02 crore would be required to restore the Yamuna floodplains.

According to an estimate, the damages caused by the three-day event will take nearly 10 years to restore.

Earlier on November the tribunal had reserved its verdict on the issue. "Our submissions have not been dealt with/considered", the foundation said through a media release, adding that it would move the Supreme Court against the verdict.

According to Advocate Sanjay Parikh, who represented petitioner Manoj Misra from Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, if the restoration costs exceed paid Rs 5 crore than Art of Living will have to cover it. "DDA will further assess and set quantum of damage and submit a final compensation amount". 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 have never caused any damage to the environment but have in fact worked for preserving and reviving it through various environment-related projects over the years", the organisation said.

The tribunal had also heard arguments of the Delhi Development Authority, Delhi Pollution Control Committee and Art of Living.



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