New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal has accorded permission to yoga guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living foundation to organise ‘World Cultural Festival’ on the bank of river Yamuna in New Delhi.
The NGT has fined the foundation of Rs 5 crore and has ordered to undo the damage done to environment and river Yamuna caused by the program. The tribunal said that the foundation would have to restore the ecology of the venue. A committee formed by the tribunal would review the area and submit a report a month after the World Cultural Festival to assess the damage caused.
Faced with tough questions from National Green Tribunal (NGT), the Water Resources ministry today told the panel it has not granted permission for ‘World Cultural Festival’ being organised by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living foundation from March 11 while another ministry said no clearance was required for temporary structures.
Responding to questions from the green panel, the Water Resources ministry distanced itself from the controversy, saying it has not given any clearance for the three-day event.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests, whereas, told the the NGT bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar that no environment clearance was required for setting up temporary structures on Yamuna flood plains.
The ministry’s submission came after the tribunal, which was hearing pleas seeking cancellation of the festival on the flood plains of Yamuna river, had pulled it up for not filing an affidavit regarding environmental clearances.
During the hearing, the green panel asked the counsel appearing for Art of Living (AOL) to take instructions not to put enzymes into river Yamuna without Delhi Pollution Control Committee’s permission, to which the foundation later agreed.
The tribunal also asked the Centre, Delhi govt, DDA if any environment impact assessment was carried out regarding preparation and consequential effects of the festival.
The tribunal was informed by the Delhi government that the police, after inspecting the site, had asked the foundation to show if they have structural safety clearance of pontoon bridge and vehicle parking clearance.
Delhi govt also told the bench that CPWD has asked the foundation to build a separate stage for the Prime Minister due to issues over structural safety, a claim denied by the AOL which said it was being built for better view of the event.