The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on May 11 came in for heavy rebuke from the National Green Tribunal, headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar, for stating in front of the court that the Art of Living (AOL) extravaganza on the Yamuna floodplains “doesn’t seem to have done any harm.”
DDA was answering the court’s query as to on what grounds permission was granted to the World Culture Festival, organized by Sri Sri Ravishankar’s AOL on the ecologically sensitive floodplains, despite warnings.
The counsel for DDA said they granted the permission with proper care for environment norms and “it is an accepted fact that the condition of the floodplain before Art of Living fest was in an adverse state.”
Then he said: “And to be precise, the fest doesn’t seem to have done any harm.”
The bench did not take lightly to this. It told the counsel that an expert committee was appointed by the bench. The bench said: “The members of this committee were engineers and environment experts, having 50-60 years of experience. And you challenging that without any backing?”
The bench also said: “In fact, in a chamber meeting they have let us know that members of the committee were not even paid a single penny by your authorities. One of them resigned because of this attitude. Under no circumstances are we going to accept that this fest never caused any harm.”
The counsel on behalf of AOL presented a strange submission. He said: “The expert committee in its final report has held the government authorities responsible for allowing us to continue with the fest. In fact, we adhered all the conditions attached with the permission granted to us by the authorities.”
The matter has been adjourned, to be listed on May 15.
—India Legal Bureau