NGT pulls up DDA over dumping of debris in Yamuna
Pulling up the Delhi Development Authority for debris dumped in the Yamuna, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Tuesday asked the DDA as to what their quick reaction team was doing when the debris was allegedly brought and dumped by the Art of Living Foundation, the organiser of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar`s World Culture Festival.
New Delhi: Pulling up the Delhi Development Authority for debris dumped in the Yamuna, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Tuesday asked the DDA as to what their quick reaction team was doing when the debris was allegedly brought and dumped by the Art of Living Foundation, the organiser of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar`s World Culture Festival.
Resuming the hearing on pleas seeking cancellation of the World Culture Festival organised by the Art of Living Foundation on the Yamuna flood plains here from March 11 to 13, NGT Chairman Justice Swatanter Kumar said, "You (DDA) must tell us where the debris has come from? In the Yamuna, 5-6 feet dumped material has been seen.
The DDA response team remained unaware of that. You can`t wash your hands off.
"Notwithstanding the response by DDA`s counsel Alok Bansal`s statement that there was no debris in October and November, Justice Swatanter Kumar shot back: "You are saying there was no debris in the months of October and November. Obviously, that has come subsequently, and the quick response teams should have taken note of that."
Crticising the DDA for being insensitive to letters and photos that brought the presence of debris to its notice, the NGT asked why the DDA didn`t take their cognisance.
Tearing into the Uttar Pradesh Government`s decision of granting the parking permission for the event, the NGT sought to know from the UP`s counsel, "Under what authority you have given the parking permission? Does the area you have allotted for the event come under flood plane?"
Besides, the NGT also sought to know whether the organiser the Art of Living Foundation have acquire more than the allotted land for the event and how much money the government has spent on clearing debris from the allotted land.
Expressing concern over the impact of the forthcoming event on environment, Justice Swatanter Kumar sought to know from all the official respondents - DDA, Delhi and U.P. governments, Environment Ministry and Art of Living Foundation - whether they have considered the impact of the event on environment, river and biodiversity, and the pollution it could generate.
"If somebody has to alter the flood plain, don`t you think it requires your clearance," the NGT asked the Environment Ministry.
Inquiring about the expected number of people attending the function, the NGT asked as to what would be the maximum estimated number of participants at the event at any given point of time.
The Art of Living Foundation replied that 2-3 lakh people are expected at the festival at any point of time.During the hearing, the Delhi Government, however, submitted before the NGT that the World Culture Festival organiser has not taken any permission either from the Delhi Police or the Fire Department.
On March 3, the DDA had submitted that it had granted conditional permission for organising the event. However, the DDA told the NGT that it had no idea about the magnitude of the programme.
Meanwhile, the Rashtrapati Bhavan has confirmed that President Pranab Mukherjee, who had earlier agreed to attend the valedictory ceremony of the festival, will not attend the event "due to unavoidable circumstances".