The Art of Living (AoL), headed by spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, today questioned the findings of an expert committee of the National Green Tribunal on the damage caused to the Yamuna floodplains after a three-day cultural event organised by it.
The AoL told a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar that it was a “prerequisite” for the seven- member expert panel to know about the status of the floodplains prior to the event before coming to the conclusion that any damage was caused by holding it there last year.
It also raised doubts over the satellite images used by the experts committee headed by Shashi Shekhar, Secretary of the Ministry of Water Resources, to estimate the damage.
“The committee while submitting its report on July 28 last year has relied on a single Google satellite image of September 15, 2015. There were multiple Google images available between 2000-2015, but the committee has chosen only one image out of all the pictures which was during peak monsoons.
“At that point of the year, there were heavy rains at that site and selection of that image to ascertain the damage is questionable,” the AOL counsel claimed. The three-day World Culture Festival was held in March last year.
Advocate Nikhil Sakhardande, appearing for AoL, submitted that the experts committee appointed by the NGT had admitted in the report dated November 28, 2016 that it did not know the condition of the site before the event.
He said if the panel was not aware of the condition of the site before the event, how could it assess the impact of the festival on the floodplains.
Earlier, the expert committee had told the NGT that a whopping Rs 42.02 crore would be required to restore Yamuna floodplains which was ravaged due to the AoL cultural extravaganza.
The hearing remained inconclusive and will continue on May 18.
At the last date of hearing, the AoL lawyer had claimed that none of the terms and conditions imposed by Delhi Development Authority while granting permission for the World Culture Festival, held in March last year, were violated or misused.
He refuted the allegations that it had wiped out the vegetation on the Yamuna floodplains, alleging that all such claims are completely “erroneous and false”.
Earlier, the NGT had slammed the Delhi Development Authority for casting aspersions on the findings of its expert committee on the damage caused to the Yamuna floodplains due to this cultural event.
The green panel had also questioned the DDA for granting nod to AOL, despite three initial rejections and said the civic body should have exercised proper caution while granting approval to the cultural extravaganza.
( Source – PTI )