Art of Living questions NGT expert committee report on Yamuna damage
Yamuna fest: It questioned satellite images used by the experts committee headed by Shashi Shekhar, secretary of the Union ministry of water resources, to estimate the damage.delhi Updated: Jul 20, 2017 11:10 IST
The Art of Living on Monday questioned the findings of an expert committee of the National Green Tribunal on the damage caused to the Yamuna floodplains after the three-day World Culture Festival in March last year.
The organisation headed by spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar told a bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar that it was a “prerequisite” for the seven-member expert panel to know about the status of the floodplains prior to the event before drawing up a conclusion regarding damage caused by hosting it.
It questioned satellite images used by the experts committee headed by Shashi Shekhar, secretary of the Union ministry of water resources, to estimate the damage.
“The committee while submitting its report on July 28 last year has relied on a single Google satellite image of September 15, 2015. There were multiple Google images available between 2000-2015, but the committee has chosen only one image out of all the pictures which was during peak monsoons.
“At that point of the year, there were heavy rains at that site and selection of that image to ascertain the damage is questionable,” Nikhil Sakhardande, the advocate appearing for the Art of Living, said.
According to him, the experts committee had admitted in its report dated November 28, 2016 that it did not know the condition of the site before the event.
“If the panel was not aware of the condition of the site before the event, how could it assess the impact of the festival on the floodplains,” Sakhardande said.
The seven-member expert committee had earlier pointed out that the event had adversely affected the ecology of nearly 420 acres of land on the banks of the Yamuna. The committee also claimed that it would take at least 10 years to fix the damage done. It has also recommended R 42.02 crore to restore the Yamuna floodplains.
The next date of hearing in this case is May 18.
Earlier, the NGT had slammed the Delhi Development Authority for casting aspersions on the findings of its expert committee on the damage caused to the Yamuna floodplains due to this cultural event.
The green panel had also questioned the DDA for giving permission to Art of Living, despite three initial rejections and said the civic agency should have exercised proper caution while granting approval to the cultural extravaganza.