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. However, it did not levy any additional penalty on the organisation.
A Bench, headed by panel chairperson Swatanter Kumar, said the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) should carry out the restoration work of the floodplains after the Art of Living deposited the remaining fine amount.
Last year, the NGT imposed ₹5 crore as interim environment compensation on the Art of Living Foundation for the event’s impact on the environment. It held that if the amount required for the restoration was above ₹5 crore, then the urban body had to recover the money from the organisation.
“The DDA has failed to perform its statutory functions of maintaining the ecology. It shall assess the quantum of damage and carry out the restoration work,” said the Bench.
An expert committee, headed by Shashi Shekhar, Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, said in April that it would cost ₹13.29 crore and take almost 10 years to restore the damaged floodplains.
The committee, in a 47-page report, said that due to the three-day event, the floodplains lost “almost all its natural vegetation” like trees, shrubs, tall grasses, aquatic vegetation, including water hyacinth that provides habitat to a large number of animals, insects and mud-dwelling organisms.
Art of Living to appeal against verdict
The Art of Living Foundation said it was disappointed with the decision taken by the NGT. "We do not agree with the verdict. 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.