Delhi: Green court to hold daily hearing in Art of Living event case

  • Ritam Halder, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 27, 2016 13:21 IST
Construction of a staging area for an event is underway on the Yamuna bank. (Saumya Khandelwal/HT Photo)

The National Green Tribunal will hold daily hearings from Tuesday in the case against an event to be held on the Yamuna floodplains, allegedly in violation of environmental laws.

The green court last year prohibited all construction activities on the floodplains. But the Art of Living (AoL) Foundation headed by spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is putting up a pavilion on the ecologically fragile zone to accommodate 35 lakh people.

A bench headed by NGT chairperson justice Swatanter Kumar on Friday also asked that two site inspection reports submitted to it to be made public.

The reports were submitted by the environment ministry, and a four-member panel headed by secretary of the Union water resources ministry Shashi Shekhar.

Activist Manoj Misra, whose petition the court was hearing, said, “Two earlier site inspections – one by IIT-Delhi professor AK Gosain and the other by the Delhi Development Authority – submitted reports, which were not consistent.”

Misra, the convener of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, said the DDA report claimed no digging was done on the site, while the Gosain report showed that the preparations violated thegreen tribunal’s January 2015 order.

A bridge across the Yamuna for visitors. (Saumya Khandelwal/HT Photo)

The NGT also directed the counsel for the AoL Foundation to submit an affidavit on whether their activity violated the NGT judgment in Maily Se Nirmal Yamuna case and whether the permission given to them by the DDA was correct.

When HT visited the site on Thursday, the 1,000-acre venue on the floodplain had been cleared. Tents, pontoon bridges and a seven-acre stage were being set up.

The green court had asked the AOL Foundation’s principal committee to identify structures which are on the floodplain and recommend their demolition.

The spiritual group replied that it took all requisite measures to maintain the Yamuna bank’s ecological balance.

“The World Culture Festival venue is at a safe distance from the riverbank and we have set in place systems to ensure it remains clean after the event is over,” a foundation spokesperson said.

He said the organisation cleared 25 acres of the area which was earlier covered with construction debris, before beginning work on the site. The World Cultural Festival is scheduled to be held from March 11 to March 13.

Read: Art of Living event along Yamuna’s floodplain creates controversy

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