NGT raps Art of Living for delay in venue handover
The Art of Living Foundation on Thursday faced flak from the National Green Tribunal over handover of the World Culture Festival venue on the Yamuna floodplains and not allowing inspections.
The green court, which is expected to pass an order on Friday, asked the foundation on whose authority it had barred a high-powered committee from inspecting the festival site.
“How can you not allow the committee to conduct the inspection?” the bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar asked.
In reply, the counsel appearing for Art of Living told the bench that cleaning operations were still on when the committee arrived for inspection on April 15.
“The high-powered committee came with JCBs to collect sample of land. We asked them to come after we handed over the site to the Delhi Development Authority (DDA),” the Art of Living lawyer said.
The foundation had completed the clean-up of the site and officially handed it over to the DDA this Monday (April 18).
“The ground has been returned by the foundation in a better condition than they received it – greener, cleaner and with no damage to the soil. There was no water, air or soil pollution from our side,” the foundation had earlier said in a statement.
The green court bench, on Thursday, reprimanded the organisation and said it can’t “frustrate the process of law”.
On March 9, the National Green Tribunal had imposed an initial ‘environmental compensation’ of Rs 5 crore on the foundation. The rest of the fine amount, the court said, would have to be decided after an NGT-appointed committee assessed the damage to the floodplain.