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Art of Living’s cultural fest gets NGT nod

Art of Living’s cultural fest gets NGT nod
The NGT order, which came on Wednesday, slapped a fine of Rs 5 crore as compensation to be paid by AOL Foundation before the event.

The NGT also imposed fine of Rs five lakh on DDA and one lakh rupees on Delhi Pollution Control Committee for not discharging statutory functions. The court directed the foundation headed by spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar to deposit the environmental compensation before the start of the festival and to develop entire area in question into a biodiversity park.

The Tribunal also asked the foundation to give an undertaking by Thursday that enzymes would not be released into river Yamuna and there would be no further environmental degradation. The court took several Central and state government agencies to task for allowing such a mega event in the Yamuna bed without taking into account the fragile ecology of the area.

Following the reprimand, Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Uma Bharti has clarified that her ministry had no role whatsoever in granting permission to world culture festival being held on the banks of river Yamuna in Delhi. The Minister, however, said that as a social activist and political leader, she extended her full support to the festival. Extending her best wishes for the success of the event Bharti said this programme will bring Yamuna into focus and will make people more sensitive to the needs of keeping this river clean.

Earlier in the day members of several opposition parties trooped into the well of the Rajya Sabha raising slogans against the government for the permission given to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living to hold a World Culture Festival on the flood plains of Yamuna. Raising the matter during Zero Hour, Sharad Yadav of Janata Dal (U), opposition leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and MS Gill of Congress criticized the sanction for the convention and said, it would adversely affect the eco-sensitive region as also the bird sanctuary in the vicinity.

Leader of Rajya Sabha and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley objected to the raising of a matter, which a court or tribunal is seized of. He said, parallel procedure cannot go on in a court or tribunal and Parliament. 

Talking to reporters outside Parliament, Tourism and Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma said, “Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s cultural festival in the national capital is a good occasion to showcase Indian culture to the world.”

The AOL Foundation later on Wednesday said it would challenge the order of the National Green Tribunal imposing a fine of Rs 5 crore on it as environmental compensation.

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal welcomed the NGT verdict and said that “politics and controversies” around the event should be “put to rest”.
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