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AoL guilty of damaging Yamuna flood plains, says NGT

08 December 2017

The National Green Tribunal on Thursday held spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living foundation responsible for damaging the Yamuna floodplains during its three-day festival in March 2016, The Indian Express reported. However, no additional penalty has been levied on the organisation.

The green tribunal directed the Delhi Development Authority to utilise Rs 5 crore, paid by the Art of Living Foundation previous year as fine, for restoring the floodplains. Activist Manoj Mishra approached the NGT, claiming the event had caused severe damage to the river and floodplains.

"We are of the considered view that the DDA has failed to exercise its statutory duty in consonance with the environmental laws in force".

"We hold and declare that AoL is responsible for causing damage and environmental degradation of the flood plain of river Yamuna limited to the area that was awarded to it by DDA and the State of UP, in terms of the report of the High Powered Committee", the NGT said in its judgement.

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The NGT said on Thursday that in case the expenditure on restoration crossed Rs 5 crore, it would be recovered from AOL, but if the costs were less than that, the balance amount would be refunded to the foundation.

The Art of Living has denied it caused any damage to the banks, alleging that it has been a victim of a "conspiracy".

The NGT had earlier slapped an interim fine Rs 5 crore on the AOL for environmental damage while efforts were made to ascertain the exact costs of the damage.

The tribunal said the Yamuna floodplains should not be used for any activity that could damage the environment.

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"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.

In its response, the Art of Living said it was "disappointed with the decision" of the NGT as its submissions were "not dealt with/considered". In its response, AoL said it would move the Supreme Court against the verdict.

"The Art of Living has always abided by the guidelines and the directions of the honourable court and the authorities who extended permission to hold the festival", the organisation added.

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AoL guilty of damaging Yamuna flood plains, says NGT