NGT panel recommends Rs 120-cr fine on Art of Living for damage to Yamuna

The Art of Living Foundation plans to hold a World Culture Festival from March 11 to 13 on the banks of the river.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: March 8, 2016 8:13 pm
art of living, world culture fest,  delhi world culture fest, world culture fest delhi, delhi news, delhi events, sri sri ravi shankar The Art of Living Foundation plans to hold a World Culture Festival from March 11 to 13 on the banks of the river. (Express Photo)

A committee appointed by National Green Tribunal (NGT) has recommended fining spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living Foundation Rs 120 crore for damage to Yamuna floodplains while making preparations for an event. The Art of Living Foundation plans to hold a World Culture Festival from March 11 to 13 on the banks of the river.

In its report, the committee comprising Prof A K Gosain, Prof Brij Gopal, Prof C R Prabhu and Shashi Shekhar, secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, has stated the event could have a severe environmental impact.

“… This amount should be collected from the foundation before the event and kept in a separate account monitored by the NGT. The entire ecological restoration of Yamuna’s (affected) sites must be completed within a year from the date of the completion of the festival,” states an excerpt from the report.

The report does not seek cancellation of the event, but does, however, point out the harm that a crowd of more than 3.5 million people can cause the Yamuna’s delicate ecology. The committee has sought a revised plan from the organisers through a court affidavit and a detailed site map. The NGT has scheduled a hearing on March 1.

The venue spans an area of more than 1,000 acres. Structures including a 40-ft-high multi-stage, large white portable cabins and a makeshift parking lot are putting stress on the floodplains, as per the report.

Earlier this month, the NGT formed the committee due to discrepancies between the reports of Prof Gosain (member of the first inspection team) and the Delhi Development Authority (DDA).

The NGT set up the committee in response to a petition by activist Manoj Misra of the Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan. In its report, the committee has stated that small water bodies, which existed earlier, have been filled up, and all natural vegetation removed, because of which birds and natural life that thrived there have disappeared. “Even most of the trees have been lopped or removed,” it said.
Gautam Vig, director of Art of Living, said they had abided by the DDA’s rules, including setting up chemical toilets that prevent the flow of sewage into the river.

‘Followed all guidelines’

The Art of Living asserted Sunday it followed all guidelines and directions of authorities and the NGT. “The Art of Living has a huge regard for the environment. We have never violated nor do we have any intention to violate any laws of the country,” said a statement by the foundation’s spokesperson. “We have followed and further undertake to follow all the guidelines, recommendations, directions of the honourable court and the authorities extending us the permission to hold the World Culture Festival.”

The Art of Living claimed that in strict adherence to the NGT’s direction, it has not done any construction or concretisation at the site. “Further we have used only eco-friendly material like wood, mud, cloth, and scaffolding towards building a temporary stage…,” it said.

“We have not cleared any greenery or levelled the area by dumping any construction debris as alleged. The material used for construction of the temporary stage is not in any manner embedded in the river bed,” it added.

The programme venue is at a safe distance from the river bank, as promised to the authorities, and 650 bio-toilets are being installed to ensure that none of the waste is passed on to river Yamuna, said the spokesperson.

The temporary pontoon bridges also are being built with permission from authorities. No parking area has been created on the flood plains as alleged. Only a temporary pathway has been created to help people reach the venue, the spokesperson added.

(With PTI inputs)

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  1. S
    Sirius
    Mar 7, 2016 at 1:43 pm
    NGT is like friction. It opposes anything !
    Reply
    1. A
      Abhishek Bose
      Feb 29, 2016 at 4:39 am
      so 1 agency gives approval, other puts a fine, the allegations are denied and politics continues as usual!!
      Reply
      1. A
        Aristarkhos
        Mar 8, 2016 at 2:19 am
        My question is: how does such a huge event even get a bid from authorities. It is on the banks of a river. We already torture the environment daily. The authorities allow them to build and then another group (rightly) fines them for it. Also, what is the guarantee the NGT will restore the flood plains like it was. Re are talking about displacement for creatures that are home to that area.
        Reply
        1. D
          Dr Gautam
          Feb 29, 2016 at 2:17 am
          Create floods,while you a peace of mind,wow!! Why cant enviornment be a issue especially for faith healers? Let us see if NGT orders are followed?
          Reply
          1. H
            human
            Feb 29, 2016 at 2:57 pm
            Fattu and his yoga/spiritual guru's will harm India more in 5 years, than corrupt Congress did in 60 years.
            Reply
            1. H
              Heena Jhingan
              Feb 29, 2016 at 4:02 am
              Hope the recommendations see the light of the day.. What say?
              Reply
              1. D
                Dr Bhardwaj
                Mar 3, 2016 at 5:31 am
                Hats off to NGT. Withh all respects to NGT, I feel 120 crore is peanuts for Sri Srii. It ought to be at least 1000 crore.
                Reply
                1. K
                  kjingar
                  Feb 29, 2016 at 5:50 am
                  The AoL has brought peace to millions of its followers. They have taken all requisite permissions. Shri Shri was one of the initiators for clean Yamuna. The function is also for a good. NGT must review its stand.
                  Reply
                  1. M
                    Manoj Divatia
                    Mar 7, 2016 at 12:46 pm
                    "committee has sought a revised plan from the organisers through a court affidavit and a detailed site map. The NGT has scheduled a hearing on March 1." - copy from this article What happened in NGT hearing on March 1st ? The picture indicates stage is under construction and is of wood. Your article also confirms the same So what is the OINION OF THE ARTICLE WRITER on this issue. I thought that Media in variably has its opinionated news. I tend to agree with AD Vigilance on his Observations on the River and its environment vs AOL
                    Reply
                    1. A
                      Arjun .
                      Feb 29, 2016 at 5:16 am
                      All organizers need approval from one authority.... NGT should 'fine' whoever gave the permission (If they find the permission wrong)... how is anyone supposed to work with multiplicity of authority to do anythibg?..... if permission is wrong. then NGT should that authority pay for its mistake...
                      Reply
                      1. A
                        Arjun .
                        Feb 29, 2016 at 2:05 am
                        If one authority already gave permission, then NGT should have guts to fine that particular authority ( if NGT disagrees).... . Any organizer of any event needs only one permission...
                        Reply
                        1. p
                          p.s.swami
                          Feb 29, 2016 at 4:13 pm
                          This is a joke - what ecoloogy?! The Yamuna is a sewer in Delhi, thanks to the indifference of various govts., and indifferent tanneries, and frankly the people. So a cultural program will affect the ecology?!
                          Reply
                          1. A
                            AD Vigilance
                            Mar 6, 2016 at 1:13 am
                            These NGT panelists are book worms , miles away from reality ...The art of living has made this stinking gutter into a liveable place by cleaning and removing the stink by removing garbage, soiled organic waste ....but these blind guys don't see, don't hear anything positive . For them if the mud is levelled on flood plain, it is incorrect.....We as public should punish NGT for their gross neglect for so many years that made the Yamuna a nallaha...and now when some one is cleaning, these book worms are punishing the good guys....
                            Reply
                            1. A
                              AD Vigilance
                              Mar 6, 2016 at 1:52 am
                              This story will open eyes .....A man was driving on high way, he found a man lying on road probably an accident case, due to compion , this man lifted the victim into his car and took him to hospital. At hospital, the admission clerk refused to take admission but upon pursuation , the clerk agreed only after payment .The driver thought his duty is complete, now he should inform the relatives of the victim.But the doctor asked to pay urgently cost of medicines and the good man sta back. The victims relative came and the victim was saved due to timely medication and quick efforts by this good man. As this good man came out, he found police standing outside and asked for penality for wrong parking of his car. This good man kept explaining the w story but police challaned , the good man after paying , drove his car, thinking whether he had a good or bad day today...now the readers should decide the moral of story....similar case is here .The art if living are doing all good things at Yamun bank, thousand of volunteers have cleaned 500tonnes of stinking garbage, they have put enzymes to purify , thousands of men hours are given to clean the w place but NGT says why did you level the ground....NGT does not see that AOL has turned this putrified stinking place a proper river bank , where now delhities can walk, take breath ....the NGT sees only one point and ignores all good things...
                              Reply
                              1. R
                                Rajendra pratap
                                Mar 1, 2016 at 6:47 am
                                NgT member ISIS agent
                                Reply
                                1. R
                                  Ruchira Roy
                                  Mar 1, 2016 at 7:28 am
                                  Kindly update your copy with the new ruling from NGT
                                  Reply
                                  1. S
                                    shashidhar
                                    Feb 29, 2016 at 5:24 am
                                    It is very unfair to impose fine after taking all required approvals. This event is for good cause and not for any entertainment.
                                    Reply
                                    1. S
                                      Sridhar
                                      Feb 29, 2016 at 10:28 am
                                      Preparations and constructions are going on at full pace there on the riverbed. With the PM set to inaugurate the high profile event in less than 10 days, these recommendations will remain just that - recommendations. Who cares about Yamuna?
                                      Reply
                                      1. R
                                        Raj
                                        Feb 29, 2016 at 12:50 pm
                                        650 bio toilets are enough for 3.5 million people? There are surely polluting toilets as well.
                                        Reply
                                        1. C
                                          Citizen
                                          Feb 29, 2016 at 1:15 am
                                          Good suggestion for using the national et. Jaihind
                                          Reply
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