The National Green Tribunal on Wednesday directed the principal committee, constituted for the rejuvenation of the Yamuna, to inspect the site on river floodplains where a three-day festival was organised by Art of Living.
The World Culture Festival in March had triggered a huge controversy. The foundation was accused of causing extensive damage to the eco-sensitive floodplain and the river while building the stage for the three-day extravaganza.
A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar ordered the committee to assess the damage caused to Yamuna floodplains and submit a final report within two weeks.
The committee was constituted by the tribunal for implementation of Maili se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalisation Project 2017 and is headed by secretary of ministry of water resources. It also has three experts members — Professor CR Babu, professor AK Gosain and professor Brij Gopal.
The green court asked the foundation to file its reply within three days on an application which had alleged the spiritual guru had termed its earlier order as “politically motivated”.
A foundation spokesperson said the Art of Living was ready with replies to applications on enzymes and alleged statements by Sri Sri to a section of media.
“The NGT gave three more days to file the replies. The allegation by Manoj Misra regarding Sri Sri’s comment on the NGT order are baseless. The petition was based on unverified newspaper reports. The Art of Living has the video of the speech that clearly shows that no such comment was made by Sri Sri. It was yet another malafide attempt by Misra to malign and tarnish his image by false claims,” the statement said.
The tribunal asked whether the foundation has deposited the environment compensation as directed on March 9 for damaging Yamuna’s biodiversity. The Art Of Living counsel replied that it was ready to furnish the amount as bank guarantee instead of “payment of balance amount”.
“Keep your bank guarantee with you,” the bench said, while posting the matter for August 2.
On March 9, the NGT ordered an initial “environmental compensation” of Rs 5 crore on Art of Living. The rest of the fine amount, it said, would have to be decided after a committee assessed the damage to the floodplain.