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NGT-panel went beyond its jurisdiction, claims Art of Living

delhi Updated: May 30, 2017 10:59 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
AOL,NGT,Yamuna floodplains

The NGT expert panel had last week submitted its report on the damage caused to the Yamuna floodplains by AoL’s three-day cultural festival last year.(HT FILE)

New Delhi: The expert panel appointed by the National Green Tribunal had gone beyond its jurisdiction while suggesting that Yamuna flood plains should be ‘rehabilitated’, the Art of Living, headed by spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, alleged on Monday.

“The committee didn’t have the power to consider rehabilitating the Yamuna flood plains. It only had the powers to suggest restoration of the floodplains. The committee had exceeded its jurisdiction,” the foundation’s counsel Nikhil Sakhardande told the NGT.

The case relates to the Art of Living holding World Culture Festival from March 11-13 in 2016. The NGT had appointed an expert panel, which in its report had suggested restoration and rehabilitation of the flood plains that would require at least Rs42 crore and 10 years.

“The committee has admitted in its report that it was not aware about the condition of the floodplains before the event. But went on to suggest that it needs to be rehabilitated,” the foundation’s counsel pointed out.

“It is like accusing someone of cutting down a tree and then saying we don’t know whether the tree existed, but we feel that you should plant a tree,” Sakhardande added.

The Art of Living also raised doubts over the satellite images used by the committee to estimate the damage. “The expert committee report was based on a single satellite image dated September 5, 2015, taken during the peak monsoon season to show that wetlands existed on the event site,” he added.

Art of Living had filed a 200-page parallel report in the NGT to counter the allegations levelled against it. The foundation had roped in at least 15 experts to prepare the scientific report. The NGT’s panel comprised seven experts.

The NGT panel had accused the foundation of levelling and compacting the soil resulting in heavy damage to the floodplains as it stopped the soil’s gaseous exchange and played havoc with the ground water recharging system.

“It is impossible for even a practicing geophysicist to claim that ground was levelled or compacted without a geophysical study,” says the reports.

First Published: May 29, 2017 16:06 IST