NGT says AoL damaged Yamuna floodplain, but limits cost to Rs 5cr

Expert committee had set restoration cost at Rs 42cr

New Delhi, Dec. 7 (PTI): The Art of Living Foundation of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is to blame for the damage caused to the Yamuna floodplains by deciding to hold its World Cultural Festival on it in March 2016, the National Green Tribunal said on Thursday.

”We hold AoL responsible for the damage caused to the Yamuna floodplains in terms of the report submitted by the expert committee,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar and including justice Jawad Rahim and expert member B.S. Sajwan said.

But the bench refused to impose any further environment compensation on AoL and said that the Rs 5 crore deposited by AoL earlier would be used to restore the floodplains.

An expert panel had told the NGT that the restoraton of the floodplain would cost Rs 42.02 crore.

The NGT told the Delhi Development Authority on Thursday to assess the damage and compute cost of restoration in line with the recommendations of the expert panel.

If the restoration costs more that the Rs 5 crore deposited by the, the AoL would have to pay the extra. If the cost is less than Rs 5 crore, the balance would be refunded to AoL, it said.

The NGT said that Yamuna floodplains should not be used for any activity that can cause damage to the environment.

The NGT said it was beyond its jurisdiction to rule on whether the AoL festival should have been allowed on the floodplains.

AoL’s counsel said they would appeal the NGT verdict in the Supreme Court.

“We are not in agreement with the verdict…Our submissions have not been dealt with/considered. We will appeal to the Supreme Court. We are confident that we will get justice before the Supreme Court,” AoL said.

The NGT was hearing a petition filed by one Manoj Misra, who claimed that severe damage was done to the river and the floodplains and it must be restored by authorities concerned.


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