The damage, if any, the Yamuna floodplain suffered because of the Art of Living Foundation’s culture festival is unlikely to be ascertained any time soon.
The National Green Tribunal-constituted principal committee, which was to submit its report by April 7, is yet to visit the site. It may seek more time to submit their report.
The committee on Monday wrote to the tribunal chairperson asking if the foundation would vacate the site.
Representatives of the foundation said they were in the process of vacating the site and will do it as soon as work on removing the stage – which was spread over 7 acres – is complete.
It is on the basis of the report of this committee that the tribunal will ascertain how much damage, if any, was caused to the floodplain. It is also supposed to tell the tribunal what the road map for the restoration is and how much money will be required. This money is supposed to be paid by the foundation, according to NGT’s March 9 order.
The foundation told HT last week that it needed time till the second week of April to dismantle the stage and vacate the site.
“Our role is to return the site the way it was. We have taken on board some environment experts. One of them is Dr Rakesh Ranjan, an environmental consultant. If there is anything specific we need to do, we will. However, we won’t allow any sort of damage to the environment,” Art of Living foundation trustee Rashmi Palliwal had told HT.
On April 1, the NGT had filed an application requesting the tribunal to accept a bank guarantee instead of the `4.75 crore that it was supposed to furnish, as ordered. The foundation was asked to pay `5 crore.
They submitted `25 lakh on the day of the festival and furnished an undertaking that the remainder will be submitted by April 1.
The application said the NGT is in the process of finalising a proposal to conduct a study to assess the damage to the floodplain.
The tribunal asked the petitioners in the case to reply to the request and the proposal.
The counsel for the petitioners, Sanjay Parikh, said they were opposed to the idea and submitted photos to show that damage to the floodplain was apparent.
“The respondents (foundation) had given an undertaking before the tribunal that they would pay the amount in three weeks and now they are coming for extension of time. This is subversion of rule of law and the tribunal’s orders,” Parikh said.