Art of Living Demands Justice After NGT’s ‘Biased’ Expert Report
The expert committee that assessed the Yamuna floodplain, where the World Culture Festival was held in March, is biased and lacks scientific evidence, the Art of Living Foundation announced Thursday.
The comment comes shortly after a report by experts appointed by the National Green Tribunal was released to the public. In the report, experts from the Ministry of Water Resources, IIT and other agencies said the venue of the event was “completely destroyed, not simply damaged”.
Art of Living was called before the National Green Tribunal earlier this year for allegedly violating an NGT order banning construction on any floodplain.
Spokespersons for the Art of Living reiterated statements made outside the tribunal last week, claiming the area where the festival was held has not been identified as a wetland or floodplain by a government body.
But lawyers for the petitioners against the World Culture Festival say the area was demarcated as a flood zone by the Delhi Development Authority 25 years ago, and that Art of Living already admitted this when they accepted to pay an initial fee of 5 crore rupees for damage to the area.
Petitioners also challenge the foundation’s claims that the committee is biased, saying the foundation had plenty of time to contest the members of the committee, and were even allowed to bring in an expert from the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute. NEERI’s expert, Dr Nitin K Labhsetwar wrote in an email that he did not fully agree with the report, but still agreed to sign and submit it.
The foundation now says it will request the appointment of an independent committee to assess any damage the event may have caused on the banks of the Yamuna. The area has been flooded since the beginning of the monsoon.
Art of Living will present its arguments before the tribunal in late September.