New Delhi: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living has been held responsible by the National Green Tribunal or green court for damaging the ecology of the Yamuna floodplains during the three-day cultural extravaganza held last year and asked the organisation to pay for the restoration works.
“We hold respondent no. 3 (Art of Living) responsible for the damage to the Yamuna floodplains,” green tribunal head Justice Swatanter Kumar said in his order.
The verdict comes after a report by an environmental experts panel accused the organisation of causing extensive damage to the Yamuna floodplains in Delhi during the World Culture Festival in 2016.
The green court has already fined the Art of Living Rs 5 crore for the damage and said the amount would be used to restore the fragile floodplains.
“In case more funds are required, Art of Living will have to pay,” the green court chief said. However, if restoration costs less, the remaining amount of the already deposited Rs 5 crore will be refunded.
The green court also asked the capital’s lead planning body, the Delhi Development Authority, to do a fresh assessment of how much money would be required to restore the damaged floodplains.
Environmentalists had vocally objected to organising the World Culture Festival on the ecologically fragile Yamuna banks — which included a 7-acre stage for 35,000 musicians and dancers, newly built dirt tracks and 650 portable toilets across 1,000 acres.
The Art of Living has denied it caused any damage to the banks, alleging that it has been a victim of a “conspiracy”.
“We have never caused any damage to the environment but have in fact worked for preserving and reviving it through various environment-related projects over the years,” the organisation said.
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