World Culture Festival: Explain how you gave clearances for show, NGT asks Centre, will rule today

A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said that the expert committee's report pointed out damage on 60 acres of land on the banks of Yamuna.

Written by Kedar Nagarajan | New Delhi | Updated: March 9, 2016 2:19 pm
yamuna1 A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said that the expert committee’s report pointed out damage on 60 acres of land on the banks of Yamuna. (Source: Express photo)

FROM temporary structures to pontoon bridges, the impact of lakhs of visitors to available parking space — and a quick U-turn by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA).

On Tuesday, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) questioned governments at the Centre, Delhi and UP about various clearances for the World Culture Festival to be held by the Sri Sri Ravi Shankar-led Art of Living (AOL) from March 11-13 on the banks of the Yamuna.

Watch Video | World Culture Festival: NGT Asks Centre To Explain Clearances Given

After hearing submissions from the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Ministry of Water Resources, the UP and Delhi governments, DDA and petitioners, Manoj Mishra and Anand Arya, the NGT sought an affidavit from the two union ministries. It will hear the matter again on Wednesday.

Directing the environment ministry to submit evidence, NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar said: “Please file an affidavit tomorrow explaining why there is no clearance required for temporary structures.”

The ministry had earlier told the bench that its team visited the venue and found no debris, as alleged. Its counsel Rahul Pratap added that according to the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification 2006, no clearance for temporary structures was required.

The bench also asked DDA how permission was granted for two pontoon bridges being constructed for the event. While the UP government said its permission was relevant only during floods, the DDA said it was only required to give AOL a no-objection certificate.

Responding to these statements, the NGT’s Principal Bench said, “Your team has visited the spot and its first three pages has made note of the impacts the structures have had on the ecology and biodiversity in the area.”

DDA counsel Rajiv Bansal stated that permission for the event was granted on the basis that no permanent structures would be constructed. “The zone which the land in question falls under is usable for recreational activity on the condition that no construction of a permanent nature will be made. Further, the permission we granted also explicitly stated that it will be subject to permissions from other concerned authorities,” he said.

In the previous hearing on March 3, DDA had said permission had been granted only for 24.4 hectares of land. But reports by the NGT-constituted expert committee recorded damage on 50-60 hectares of land.

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In addition, the DDA had revoked permission in November 2015 on the grounds that the expected footfall was too large for the area concerned before doing a U-turn on December 15, 2015. Taking note of this, the Principal Bench asked AOL, “Given the reasons for the cancellation of the permission of the event, on what grounds was the permission given to you again?”

The Tribunal also raised questions regarding the expected footfall for the event, stating that DDA’s initial cancellation came as a result of the turnout being “too large”. The tribunal asked AOL to make clear the number of participants to which the counsel said 2-3 lakh people per day were expected. Earlier promotions for the event, however, had stated that the event will host close to a total of 35 lakh people over three days.

In its submission, AOL said that it had taken the requisite permissions from all authorities except police, which is subject to permission from the fire department which will come after the completion of the stage.

On parking space at the venue, Savitri Pandey, counsel for the UP government, submitted that they had allocated 15 hectares of land on the floodplain. The counsel stated, “We have given parking permission for three days as permission can be given when there is no damage from temporary construction.”

The bench responded by asking, “Will the parking of several vehicles on the floodplain for three days not have a permanent impact on the floodplain?”

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  1. A
    anonymous
    Mar 8, 2016 at 1:02 pm
    It seems like you got a promotion in trolling, what a waste life u r leading, think once again!
    Reply
    1. I
      IslamForFooools
      Mar 8, 2016 at 12:21 pm
      If it was landa Muslim function, media would have made sure, they have everything they need, but since it's Hindu related function, media tries to make public opinion against it, gullible poor hindus
      Reply
      1. I
        IslamForFooools
        Mar 8, 2016 at 12:15 pm
        The function is related to Hinduism and spirituality, so media says let's start maligning and abusing it, that would be fun, anyways Hindus cannot downy thing to Hindu enemies, they know
        Reply
        1. F
          Firoz Alam
          Mar 8, 2016 at 11:35 am
          The art of live and let others live is the call of the day. What the nation is going to benefit from this function ? Army along with other national resources are being emplo to promote a function which is personal in nature. Above all environmental degradation is the major concern. If SS Ravishankar has some remedy to offer for living in degraded environment in his art of living programme that could be verified by NGT.
          Reply
          1. M
            Mahesh Girri
            Mar 8, 2016 at 12:50 pm
            It does not matter how much high and mighty the organizer is ; if the fragile river bank ecosystem is being affected ; the courts should penalized Ravi Shankar and not give any permission . What kind of banana republic is this that any godman can come and do all sorts of environmental damage and we just sit awe struck because of "Culture" tag in the event.
            Reply
            1. M
              MyTake
              Mar 8, 2016 at 6:07 pm
              (It asked all the parties to consider the impact of the such a event on the environment, river, ecology and biodiversity.) What these a r s e h o l e s were doing when rivers have been dying all these years and in some places it is nothing more then s h I t p I t ts! No one heard about these mobs all these years shedding tears for the rivers nor did they come up with any practical solution to impending problems!
              Reply
              1. M
                MyTake
                Mar 8, 2016 at 6:15 pm
                ....If permission has been taken then the Art of Living can file its own case for compensation from these people for damaging its r e p u t a t I o n and financial losses as a consequence!...
                Reply
                1. M
                  MyTake
                  Mar 8, 2016 at 6:10 pm
                  When it comes to ertiveness of the people this mob will always work against them!
                  Reply
                  1. S
                    Shubha
                    Mar 9, 2016 at 11:37 am
                    Any event ……gets wings with politics here………^
                    Reply
                    1. A
                      anand
                      Mar 8, 2016 at 12:48 pm
                      The Green Tribunal should not interfere as this is an important event showcasing the cultural and spiritual side of India.
                      Reply
                      1. a
                        avd122
                        Mar 8, 2016 at 12:02 pm
                        pls come to the festival, you will definitely know how it is going to help :) :)
                        Reply
                        1. B
                          bhavna
                          Mar 9, 2016 at 9:33 am
                          hope the impeccable individuals were doing enough for the yamuna, also..
                          Reply
                          1. B
                            Balaji
                            Mar 10, 2016 at 8:54 am
                            India is so big and diverse that every thing can be viewed negative here. No good work will be there as it will find some opposition.
                            Reply
                            1. B
                              Bhakti
                              Mar 8, 2016 at 4:38 pm
                              It is all high level politics. Sri Sri can pick up the phone and talk to the PM anytime. They are both great admirers of each other. And they are both going to "enthral" the hundreds of thousands of spectators at this event. Can you imagine what a Himalayan boost that is for their egos?
                              Reply
                              1. S
                                sps
                                Mar 8, 2016 at 2:25 pm
                                Name tells that you are an .
                                Reply
                                1. A
                                  amiable
                                  Mar 8, 2016 at 4:41 pm
                                  yamuna is like a dirty SEWER wonder why no one cared for flora and fauna and ecology until now
                                  Reply
                                  1. I
                                    IslamForFoools
                                    Mar 8, 2016 at 1:12 pm
                                    It looks like kuran slaves ISIS has given you duty to work against Human race, what a shame on your parents who gave birth to a traitor and a jihadi and moron
                                    Reply
                                    1. F
                                      fabulous
                                      Mar 9, 2016 at 7:23 am
                                      Many of the members who are heading the panel, which is against the event taking place, were appointed by the congress government. Hence it is well understood as to why such a fuss is being done. Moreover several Hindu religious leaders had wanted a leader like Sri.Modiji to be PM. This the main reason for the opposition too to rake up this issue so as to create hurdles . But none of this s going to work against the holding of the event and I am sure it will take place in spite of the all the hindrances. Congress has become anti-Hindu and this for sure may not appease even the minorities in our country.
                                      Reply
                                      1. F
                                        fabulous
                                        Mar 9, 2016 at 7:27 am
                                        Unlike mullahs who create hatred and spread terror worldwide.
                                        Reply
                                        1. I
                                          IslamForFoools
                                          Mar 8, 2016 at 6:53 pm
                                          my profile name says truth about you jihadi cowards
                                          Reply
                                          1. H
                                            harun
                                            Mar 8, 2016 at 11:53 am
                                            The jobless are making a issue about the Army Jawans being used for a Pvt Function organised by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. So what if Army Jawans are slogging it out on the banks of the Yamuna,as for the Tax Payer ask them to mind their business. No one granted 653 acres as Baba was given in Nagpur.Dont blow the issue up
                                            Reply
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