AOL refutes allegations that its event damaged Yamuna floodplains

AOL claimed that there has been no scientific assessment of pre and post situation of the floodplains till now

By: PTI | New Delhi | Published: June 6, 2016 10:32 pm
art of living, world culture festival, yamuna floodplains, sri sri ravi shankar, damage to yamuna floodplains, art of living event Spiritual guru and Art of Living founder, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Art of Living (AOL) on Monday refused the allegations that its three day mega event had damaged Yamuna floodplains and hinted that it may approach the Supreme Court against the National Green Tribunal’s order which asked it to pay Rs 5 crore as compensation.

AOL claimed that there has been no scientific assessment of pre and post situation of the floodplains till now. Stating that they were “sensitive” towards environment and can never cause any irreversible damage to the floodplain, AOL’s legal and environmental experts also displayed satellite images and photographs to claim that no environmental damage was done.

“Our legal team is studying the NGT order. Supreme Court is on vacation. We will soon take an appropriate step,” AOL spokesman Kedar Desai told reporters here. Noting that the matter was still subjudice with the NGT, AOL experts said that they are yet to present their evidence to the tribunal that there was no ecological damage done to the Yamuna floodplains.

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“There is no scientific assessment of the pre and post situation at Yamuna floodplains where World Cultural Festival was held. The judicial process in on and if we win, the money (Rs 5 crore) will be returned to us,” Desai said.

Environment consultant Prabhakar Rao also showed a 1986 Survey of India map and claimed that the allegation of damage to wetland along Yamuna was “wrong” since no such wetland existed there. He also refused other allegations of change of land form at Yamuna floodplains and damage to local biodiversity showing satellite images and site photographs of flora and fauna.

“The charge of damage to Yamuna floodplain is not correct since the World Cultural Festival’s core venue was spread over just 24.44 acres,” he said claiming that no harm was done to local flora and fauna during WCF. AOL expressed disappointment over controversy surrounding WCF which was held at Yamuna floodplains on March 11-13, saying even foreign countries were interested in hosting the event. “Even while WCF was going on here, we were invited by three countries including Australia to hold such event there. It feels bad, as a country we should have felt proud over the event which was participated by people from 155 countries,” Desai said. PTI

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