National Green Tribunal while giving a green signal to the hosting of World Culture Festival organized by the Art of Living Foundation on the flood plains of the river Yamuna, has asked the foundation to pay an ‘initial’ Environmental Compensation of ₹ 5 crores. The fine has been imposed holing the foundation liable for the damage caused to the environment, ecology, biodiversity and aquatic life of the river.
For the damage caused to the environment, ecology, biodiversity and aquatic life of the river, the Foundation should be held liable for its restoration in all respects. In that regard and in exercise of our powers under Sections 15 and 17 of the NGT Act, 2010 we impose an Environmental Compensation, initially of Rs. 5 crores. This amount would be paid by the Foundation prior to the commencement of the event. This amount would be adjusted towards the final compensation determined to be paid by the Foundation for restoration work. We hereby direct the Principal Committee constituted under the judgment, to submit a report within four weeks from today, in relation to the steps required to be taken for restoration, restitution and rejuvenation of the flood plains to its original status. It will also state the approximate cost that would have to be incurred for such restoration and restitution. We further direct that the entire area in question shall be developed as a biodiversity park in terms of our judgment in the case of Manoj Mishra (supra). The cost thereof shall be paid by the Foundation and DDA in the proportion as would be directed by the Tribunal finally.
Declining any prohibition against holding of the event, NGT observed:
For the reason of delay and laches on the part of the applicant in approaching the Tribunal and for the reason of fait accompli capable of restoration and restitution, we are unable to grant the prayer of prohibitory order and a mandatory direction for removal of construction and restoration of the area in question to the applicant at this stage.
NGT has also imposed cost of ₹ 5 lacs on DDA for its defaults and non-performance of its statutory functions. It has
further directed DDA not to issue any such permission in future and any permission issued by the DDA.
Read the complete order here.
Image via Richter Frank-Jurgen.