President Pranab Mukherjee would not attend a cultural festival being organised by the Art of…
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Tuesday came down heavily on the Union environment ministry, Union water resources ministry, Delhi Development Authority, Uttar Pradesh government and the Art of Living Foundation and asked if they have taken into consideration “the impact of the (Art of Living) event on the river Yamuna’s environment, its floodplains, and its biodiversity, as it is not just for a few hours.”
It asked the environment ministry and the water resources ministry if “it was not their responsibility to protect the fragile ecosystem of river Yamuna.” NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar posed a series of uncomfortable questions to the NGO’s counsel, and said the details provided in its application to the DDA were ambiguous and incomplete. “You did not disclose the scale of the preparations,” Kumar said. While the AOL ads said that 3.5 million people will attend the event, its counsel told the court that at any given point of time three lakh people will be present at the venue.
The NGO also came under fire for using iron scaffolding to erect 30-ft-tall dais as the DDA had permitted the NGO to use only eco-friendly material. When the NGO’s counsel argued that the scaffolding was not dug into the ground, he countered: “It doesn’t stand to reason that a 30-ft-tall structure can stand without holding on the ground. How is this eco-friendly?”
The four-member bench was hearing the final arguments in an on-going matter against global NGO Art of Living Foundation. Delhi-based NGO Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan has alleged that Art of Living’s three-day mega event on Yamuna’s floodplains will permanently damage its fragile ecology. Besides, a four-member expert body of the NGT has already recommended that a fine of Rs 120 crore should be slapped against Art of Living Foundation for causing severe and extensive damage to the floodplains.