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Let us give him (Sri Sri Ravi Shankar) the benefit of doubt that he did not know it before that reclaiming the Yamuna is not allowed and destroying the catchment is not allowed and their effects (of activities). But after the case went to the National Green Tribunal, which conducted the study and the fact finding team found him in the wrong he should have stopped. But he carried out his event (World Culture Festival) in the presence of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” environmentalist and human rights activist Medha Patkar told greenubuntu.com in an exclusive interview.

A couple of days back Sri Sri Ravishankar-run Art of Living Foundation (AoL) was found ‘responsible’ for causing ‘damage and environmental degradation’ to the Yamuna floodplains during the World Culture Festival (WCF), by the National Green Tribunal (NGT). The three-day event was held in March 2016.

“This is a fraudulent way of appropriating nature. This is creating an illusion,” added Medha Patkar.

NGT Chairperson said in its ruling: ‘We hold and declare respondent number 3 (Art of Living) responsible for causing damage and environmental degradation of floodplain of river Yamuna limited to area that was awarded by DDA and State of Uttar Pradesh.’

The Green Tribunal also flayed the role played by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) in facilitating the event and for ‘failing to exercise its statutory duty in consonance with environmental laws in force.’

The Art of Living organization deposited an amount of Rs 5 crore with the Green Tribunal for the restoration of the damaged Yamuna floodplains. The deposit was made on the instructions of the Green Court. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s organization has decided to appeal against the verdict of the Green Tribunal.

Yamuna floodplains rehabilitation will cost Rs 42 crore, take 10 years: NGT

Earlier, an NGT appointed committee of experts said that the rehabilitation of the Yamuna floodplains and the pollution will cost over Rs 42.02 crore and that the task may take up to 10 years. The green tribunal has also said that the Art of Living (AoL) Foundation was also responsible for ‘restoration and restitution of flood plain limited to portion that was allotted” to it for the festival ‘in original condition in which it was allotted to it prior to the event.’

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Ushi Fatma

About Ushi Fatma

Author at greenubuntu.com. I am a freelance journalist, environment activist, fashion blogger, and a short film and documentary maker. My association with Taru Mitra, an organisation working hard for the environment in India, taught me the value of nature preservation. I want to make the world a better place for future generations. Being a mother, I know how important it is to do that. I love nature, art and creativity.