The National Green Tribunal on Wednesday slapped an initial fine of Rs.5 crore on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar-led Art of Living foundation, but declined to stay the holding of the sprawling World Culture Festival on the fragile Yamuna flood plain. It also pulled up the government, saying the authorities had failed to discharge their duties.
The tribunal also imposed a fine of Rs.5 lakh on Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and a fine of Rs.1 lakh on the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC).
What the NGT order says
♦ DPCC is incompetent, it has failed to discharge its duty.
♦ A study of the area should be conducted to assess damage to the river's flood plain after the event
♦ The fine may be increased manifold after getting the study report
♦ AoL can be asked to pay for setting up a biodiversity park in the area
♦ All (government) authorities have failed to fulfil their duties
NGT to Environment ministry: "What is your primary duty? Do you believe Art of Living has not done any damage to the environment?"
NGT to Water Resources Ministry: “Managing, conserving and developing the river plains primarily falls under your domain".
The event will be held from March 11 to 13 on the banks of the Yamuna and is expected to be attended by three lakh people from 155 countries. In its promotional literature, it had claimed that 35 lakh people would attend the function. The event is likely to be attended by several central ministers.
Cost of the event
Art of Living admitted in court that they had spent Rs 25.63 crore for the event, of which Rs 15.63 crore was for stage formation and marquees while the remaining Rs 10 crore was paid for decoration and lighting.
Environmental activist Manoj Mishra, who filed the petition, alleged violation of environmental laws and pollution of Yamuna river likely to be caused by the event. He had insisted that the event should not only be stopped but the tribunal should also impose a fine on the organisers. "The court has accepted our contention," Mishra told reporters post-verdict.
(With inputs from IANS)