Art of Living event on Yamuna: NGT orders fresh inspection

Updated - September 06, 2016 10:51 am IST

Published - February 20, 2016 12:00 am IST - NEW DELHI:

de13 Art of living 3

de13 Art of living 3

The National Green Tribunal on Friday directed a fresh inspection of the site on Yamuna floodplains where a three-day festival is to be organised next month under the patronage of spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living.

The green panel passed the direction after Prof A K Gosain of IIT-Delhi, one of the members of the earlier inspection team, submitted a report saying all existing vegetation has been cleared in the area and if the event was allowed, it would leave leave a “permanent footprint” on the floodplains of Yamuna.

However, in another report, Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has given a clean chit to the foundation and said no digging work was done at the site.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar constituted an expert committee headed by Water Resources Secretary Shashi Shekhar along with professors Gosain, C R Babu and Prof Brij Gopal from Jaipur and directed them to inspect the site in question tomorrow.

“There are some variations in the reports of DDA and Professor Gosain. It would be better if an expert committee visits the site and informs us about the actual position,” the bench said while adding Environment Ministry and Ministry of Water Resources as party in the case.

In his report, Mr. Gosain has said the construction and preparations for the event were carried out in violation of the NGT’s directions regarding the Yamuna flood plains.

“The site has been cleared of all natural vegetation and consolidated with the machinery. It appears that the site has been raised with the help of JCBs (mechanical excavators)...A gigantic stage made of steel rods is under preparation that is proposed to house thousands of artists performing simultaneously. Five pontoon bridges (two on Yamuna, three on Barapullah) are under construction.

A huge amount of debris and construction waste has been dumped into the Yamuna main channel close to the location of the pontoon bridge,” Mr. Gosain’s report said.

On February 11, the Tribunal had issued notices to the Delhi government, DDA and Art of Living Foundation while directing DDA to inspect the site along with Professor Gosain on a plea seeking stoppage of ongoing construction work.

During the proceedings, advocate Ritwick Dutta, appearing for petitioner Manoj Mishra, told the bench that approach roads were being constructed from Ring Road and the DND flyway which involves dumping of huge amount of debris and clearing of the flood plains.

The Tribunal was hearing the petition by Mishra, convenor of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, alleging that the Foundation has recently started construction on the flood plains in violation of NGT orders.

The event will be held from March 11-13 on the west bank of Yamuna flood plains near DND flyover to mark the celebration of 35 years of The Art of Living. The President and the Prime Minister have reportedly given their consent to the part of inaugural ceremony.

In a detailed judgement last year, NGT had prohibited any construction activity in the demarcated flood plains of Yamuna and asked its Principal Committee to identify structures which fall on the flood plain and recommend their demolition. — PTI

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