The National Green Tribunal (NGT) Friday directed the Art of Living (AOL) Foundation to deposit the balance environmental compensation amount of Rs 4.75 crore by Saturday. The Foundation was ordered to pay the money for the damage caused to the Yamuna floodplains during preparations for the World Culture Festival held in March.
A vacation bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar directed AOL to deposit the money with the Delhi Development Authority via RTGS (instant transfer).
The Tribunal also asked the expert committee headed by Shashi Shekhar, secretary in the Union Ministry of Water Resources, to inspect the site before June 10 and submit a “complete and comprehensive” report in a sealed cover by July 4.
It added that the inspection should be conducted before June 10 to ensure that the “purpose of the visit was not defeated by the onset of the monsoon”.
During the hearing on May 30, AOL had filed a plea requesting the re-constitution of the expert committee and alleged it was “biased”. On May 31, the Tribunal held that while it was unwilling to change the committee, they would be willing to add two members.
The expert committee, in its report, submitted to the Tribunal on February 20, had recommended a Rs 120 crore compensation. AOL did not challenge the nature of the expert committee until a hearing in April.
While the issue was to be heard on July 4, the bench has now scheduled the next hearing for July 19. A contempt application against organisation’s founder Ravi Shankar for calling the NGT’s March 9 order “politically motivated,” will be heard on August 2.
On March 9, the NGT had ordered a Rs 5 crore compensation for damage caused to the floodplains, of which the foundation has paid Rs 25 lakh so far.