‘Accidental damage’ to Yamuna already restored by nature, says Art of Living report | delhi | Hindustan Times
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‘Accidental damage’ to Yamuna already restored by nature, says Art of Living report

A scientific report prepared by Art of Living claimed that any ‘accidental damage’ to the ecology of the Yamuna floodplains caused by the Art of Living’s cultural event in 2016 has already been restored by nature.

delhi Updated: Apr 27, 2017 17:39 IST
Joydeep Thakur
The Yamuna banks after the World Culture Festival in 2016.
The Yamuna banks after the World Culture Festival in 2016.(Mohd Zakir/ HT File)

A scientific report prepared by Art of Living claimed that any ‘accidental damage’ to the ecology of the Yamuna floodplains caused by the Art of Living’s cultural event in 2016 has already been restored by nature.

This contradicts the earlier findings by the National Green Tribunal-appointed seven-member expert committee, which claimed that it would take at least 10 years and Rs42 crore to fix the physical and biological damages caused to the river’s floodplains by the event.

“If at all any such accidental damage would have taken place during the event, in all probability they have already been reversed by natural processes. With the arrival of monsoon in 2016, all the lost plants and animals would have re-colonised the event site,” the foundation’s report has claimed.

Instead the NGO report has hinted that removal of shrubs, tall grasses, aquatic vegetation and reeds from the event site, which the NGT panel had dubbed as harmful to the floodplains, is actually beneficial to the ecology as it also helped remove invasive exotic species such as water hyacinth.

Experts from both the NGT’s panel and the foundation’s team refused to comment on this ongoing war between scientists and experts of the two panels.

Art of Living had filed a 200-page parallel report in the NGT to counter the allegations levelled against it. The foundation, founded by spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, which has been in the centre of controversy, had roped in at least 15 experts to prepare a scientific report.

Experts in the Art of Living’s panel also alleged that satellite images, which forms one of the main pillars of the report submitted by the NGT-appointed panel, has been misinterpreted.

The NGT panel had used satellite images and ground reports while claiming that large tracts of wetlands and water bodies were filled up for the event.

“One of the most glaring mistakes made in the report is the declaration of dry farmlands as huge tract of wetlands filled with water and several water bodies etc. Even the agricultural crops have been considered as wetland vegetation with shallow to deep water beneath them,” the NGO’s report has claimed.

The experts pointed out that even the Survey of India’s report and National Wetland Atlas prepared by Space Application Centre have no mention of any such wetlands. The atlas had listed around 399 wetlands, including 301 micro wetlands in Delhi alone.

The foundation’s report has also challenged the NGT-panel’s allegations that nearly 420 acres of Yamuna floodplains were damaged. Experts questioned how can an event, held over 25 acres of land, damage 420 acres of floodplains.

The NGT panel had accused the foundation of levelling and compacting the soil resulting in heavy damage to the floodplains as it stopped the soil’s gaseous exchange and played havoc with the ground water recharging system.

Experts who prepared the foundation’s report, however, claimed that compaction if any was done much earlier when construction of guide banks, DND and Barapullah drain were going on. “It is impossible for even a practicing geophysicist to claim that ground was levelled or compacted without a geophysical study,” says the reports.