Handover of festival site: AOL yet to give anything in writing, DDA tells NGT

The Delhi Development Authority Friday told the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that the Art of Living (AOL) Foundation had not yet given the ‘written handover’ of the site where the World Culture Festival organised by AOL was held in March.

Written by Kedar Nagarajan | Delhi | Published: April 23, 2016 1:57:29 am
 DDA, NGT, AOL, Art of living, World cultural festival, festival site, delhi news While the site has been cleared, the NGT committee has been unable to inspect the floodplains. Praveen Khanna

The Delhi Development Authority Friday told the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that the Art of Living (AOL) Foundation had not yet given the ‘written handover’ of the site where the World Culture Festival organised by AOL was held in March.

The DDA’s statement came after a submission that a principal committee, constituted by the NGT, was prevented from inspecting the site on April 15 by AOL officials. The counsel stated that while AOL had written a letter providing details of the site’s current condition, no official written handover had been made.

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This is yet another setback for the committee, which was to inspect the site and submit a report four weeks after event’s conclusion.
The committee, in its report on February 20, had recommended a compensation of Rs 120 crore for the damage caused by preparations for the event on the floodplains.

However, the counsel representing AOL questioned the basis on which the amount was determined and said it was made purely on a visual assessment. The counsel added that AOL is only liable to pay compensation for the land the foundation used.

He said, “I can barely assess the size of this room visually, how has the committee… determined that the area used was 60 hectares?”

Meanwhile, petitioners have moved a contempt plea against AOL for not paying the initial Rs 5 crore amount ordered by the NGT on March 9. AOL had paid Rs 25 lakh as a show of faith.

On April 1, the foundation submitted a bank guarantee instead of the balance amount. When the AOL counsel said the guarantee was as good as cash, the bench said, “Then why don’t you pay the cash?”

The March 9 order also stated that if AOL failed to pay the amount within three weeks, then a grant worth Rs 2.75 crore from the Ministry of Culture would also be attached. The bench, however, has reserved the judgment on the initial compensation and the grant from the culture ministry.

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