An expert committee has told the National Green Tribunal that the tentative cost to restore the Yamuna riverbed, allegedly damaged due to the Art of Living Foundation’s culture festival, can be calculated only after November.
The seven-member principal committee headed by Shashi Shekhar, secretary in the ministry of water resources, told a bench headed by Justice Jawad Rahim that the survey to determine the restoration cost could not be completed because of floods in the area.
“We see the letter from Shashi Shekhar, secretary, water resources, dated September 9, 2016, wherein he has mentioned that the task of conducting a survey for determining the cost of restoration to the environment, ecology and bio-diversity could not be completed due to non-favourable conditions, the bench noted.
“He indicated that selection of dumping site, etc., can be done by Delhi Development Authority under the supervision of the principal committee only after the month of November, 2016. At present, the area is inundated and is not accessible. He has expressed his difficulty in submitting the report,” the bench said.
The NGT will hear the matter next on October 7. The committee was formed for the rejuvenation of the Yamuna.
On August 10, the bench had directed the committee to quantify the damage and furnish a tentative cost for the restoration of the area and allowed the panel to use any specialised agency for the purpose.
The expert committee had in an earlier hearing told the NGT that the World Culture Festival extravaganza had “completely destroyed” the riverbed.
The tribunal had directed the seven-member expert committee headed by Shekhar and senior scientists and experts from the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, IIT-Delhi and other agencies to inspect the site of the festival held in March this year.
The Art Of Living foundation had earlier deposited R4.75 crore as “environment compensation” with the Delhi Development Authority as directed by the NGT.
The green court had on March 9 refused to prohibit the festival held from March 11 to 13 but asked the foundation to pay a compensation of R5 crore for damaging the biodiversity and aquatic life of the Yamuna.