The Art Of Living Foundation on Thursday said the expert committee report on the damage caused to the Yamuna floodplain because of the World Culture Festival was “factually incorrect” and demanded a fresh probe.
Art of Living lawyer Kedar Desai said the foundation demands an independent, unbiased and scientific committee to look into the damage, if any.
“We have already given it in writing to the National Green Tribunal but that plea hasn’t been heard yet. We have faith in the judiciary and hope the NGT will ensure justice. We will again submit our objections to the committee report to NGT and seek fresh unbiased probe,” Desai said.
An NGT-appointed expert panel has said that Yamuna’s floodplain was “completely destroyed” and the ground was devoid of water bodies and vegetation because of the festival held in March.
The panel submitted its report to the NGT last week. It said the floodplain lost its natural vegetation, flattened using soil and debris to fill gaps, the soil composition had been changed and water bodies levelled.
Addressing a press conference on Thursday, Art Of Living officials questioned the scientific validity of the report.
“The committee has classified the World Culture Festival venue as a wetland. However, the Wetland Atlas of Delhi released recently, the 1986 survey of India map, and many other authentic government documents do not mark this land as a wetland. By labelling it a wetland, the committee is manipulating facts. The truth is this land has always been classified as a floodplain; a sandy floodplain, at that,” the Art Of Living lawyer said.
“Scientifically, the characteristic of sandy soil or a riverbed soil is that it can never be compacted. The claim that the Art of Living flattened the land is completely baseless. The grounds were depicted as a flat land in 1985,” he said.
The NGT had levied R5 crore environmental compensation on the foundation.