Art of Living Event on Yamuna: New Panel Gives Different Findings
A committee set up to submit an action plan for restoring the Yamuna floodplains, told the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday that there was no compaction of the soil on the site where the Art of Living's (AOL) three-day cultural extravaganza was held in 2016.
The report assumes significance as its findings are different to that of an earlier seven-member expert panel, which had alleged that the Yamuna floodplains were completely destroyed due to the World Cultural Festival of AOL.
What the NGT Report Said
The three-member committee, which was formed by the NGT after submission of the report by the larger panel, said on Friday that the land where the AOL's event was held in 2016 was found to be fully covered with grass and some saplings of tree species.
The committee said in its report submitted before a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar:
This kind of grass and natural regeneration of seedlings is not possible on compacted soil. “The area was also under water in small depressions in the majority of the areas where the function was held. No significant size of the wetland/water body was noticed by the committee in the area used by AOL.
Referring to Google earth images, the committee said in its report that it could not locate any "heap of debris" on the site, and it is evident that no "wetland or water body" was seen on the site prior to the event.
The report added, “The committee also inspected the areas on eastern bank which are under the control of UP government. This site, as informed by chief engineer, was used for parking of vehicles on 15 hectare land permitted by them to AOL temporarily for the event.”
Further, the report claimed:
The panel comprises principal commissioner of DDA's horticulture department and chief engineers from the irrigation departments of Delhi and UP.
AOL Event Area Totally Destroyed
The panel said:
It also added, “Anyway, toxification, if any, identified after the comparison of the testing of the soils of AOL site and the adjoining areas of the river, is proposed to be removed through the remediation methods.”
The matter is fixed for hearing on 4 August.
It had suggested that there would be two components in the rehabilitation plan – physical and biological – and they would cost Rs 28.73 crore and Rs 13.29 crore respectively.
The seven-member committee had observed that the entire floodplain area used for the main event site between DND flyover and the Barapulla drain (on the right bank of river Yamuna) had been completely destroyed, not simply damaged.
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