Found nothing wrong with Yamuna floodplains: DDA tells NGT
An expert panel constituted by the NGT had earlier said that ecology of about 420 acres of land on the banks of Yamuna was adversely affected by the three-day Art of Living event in 2016.delhi Updated: Jun 01, 2017 17:08 IST
Contrary to reports of experts, a Delhi Development Authority team hasn’t found ‘anything wrong’ with the Yamuna floodplains where a three-day cultural event was organised by the Art of Living in 2016.
“A team of DDA officials visited the site after the event to see if conditions imposed for holding the event were met. The officials didn’t find anything wrong. There were no violations,” the DDA’s counsel told the NGT on Thursday.
A seven member expert committee appointed by the National Green Tribunal earlier had pointed out that the event had adversely affected the ecology of nearly 420 acres of land on the banks of the Yamuna. The committee also claimed that it would take at least 10 years to fix the damage done.
DDA’s statements appeared to be in line with views expressed by former Delhi water minister Kapil Mishra, who had criticised the NGT’s expert panel report in April this year.
“The DDA admitted before the NGT that there were no violations by Art of Living. All conditions for the permission were adhered to,” said a spokesperson of the Art of Living.
The principal bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, however, didn’t seem to be convinced with the DDA’s comments and observed that the land owning agency should have been more cautious while giving permission to hold the event.
“The DDA should have exercised more caution before giving permission to the NGO. If they have granted the permission, then they must own some responsibility,” the bench observed.
The observation came after DDA’s counsel told the tribunal that permission to organise the event was granted to the foundation headed by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, subject to certain conditions.
Earlier in April, Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had claimed that the Centre, Delhi government and the National Green Tribunal (NGT) should be held responsible for the damage to the Yamuna floodplains.
“If, at all, any fine has to be levied, it should be levied on the Central and state governments and the NGT itself, for giving permission,” the spiritual guru had claimed.
DDA’s counsel however countered that the agency can’t be held responsible as permission to hold the event was given on the basis of representation made by Art of Living.
The DDA had thrice rejected the NGO’s application for organising the three-day World Culture Festival in March 2016 before finally agreeing.