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NGT clears deck for World Cultural Festival
New Delhi: Faulting every concerned government agency over a cultural event on the fragile banks of Yamuna this weekend, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has slapped a Rs.5 crore fine on its organisers, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar-led Art of Living (AoL). But it did not stay the event.
Acting on petitions over alleged violation of environment laws, NGT also fined the Central government-led Delhi Development Authority (DDA) Rs.5 lakh and another Rs.1 lakh on the Delhi Pollution Control Committee. “What is your primary duty? Do you believe Art of Living has not done any damage to the environment,” the livid bench said, even describing the city pollution committee “incompetent” and failing to discharge its duties.
“All (government) authorities have failed to fulfill their duties,” said the principal bench of Justice Swatanter Kumar, Justice M.S. Nambiar, Justice D.K. Agrawal and Justice B.S. Sajwan.
“For the damage caused to environment, ecology, biodiversity and aquatic life of the river, the foundation (AoL) should be held liable for its restoration in all respects,” said the bench.
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday also took note of news reports on the AoL’s cultural mega-event from March 11 to 13 and said that holding the World Culture Festival on the Yamuna flood plain appears to be a disaster from the ecological point of view.
“It’s (event) a disaster,” a division bench of Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva observed while hearing a public interest litigation on the unauthorised constructions on the river’s flood plain in Jaitpur and Mithapur areas of Delhi.(Agencies)