New Delhi: As the furore over Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's cultural mega-extravaganza grows louder, a group of experts has said that the Art of Living foundation must pay at least Rs 100 crore for damaging the ecologically fragile Yamuna flood plains.
Talking to NDTV, Professor CR Babu, who has been appointed by the National Green Tribunal to review the site, said that extensive damage has been done to the flood plains.
"Rs 100-120 crores will be required to undo the damage and the Art of Living must pay that money as penalty," he said.
According to Professor Babu, "the major damage is the levelling of the flood plain, some of the wetlands and vegetation have been lost.”
The mega-event, expected to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, marks 35 years of the foundation ran into fresh trouble after Army men were seen helping the non-governmental organisation in the construction process ahead of the programme.
Earlier, the Delhi government, the central government and the event organisers sought more time to reply to the green court's queries on the environmental impact of the fiesta taking place over some 1,000 acres of land upstream of the DND elevated bridge and on the right bank of the river.
Green activists have raised an alarm that the event violates environmental laws and the mega construction work -- including tents, hutments, barricades, and pontoon bridges -- will pollute the river and alter the flood plain. The construction also included a massive 40-feet-high, multi-floor stage mounted on steel rods over seven acres of land.
The green court asked the Union Environment Ministry if it had given clearance for altering the river's flood plain. It also asked the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) how it had given the nod to the event without conducting any environmental impact study.
The organisers dismissed the concerns in defending the event for which permission had already been given by the Delhi government. "We have got permissions from more than 30 departments and ministries," defence lawyer Akashama Nath told the green tribunal.