The World Culture Festival by the Art of Living (AOL) Foundation will go on as planned but only after paying an initial fine of Rs. 5 crore as compensation for damaging the biodiversity of the flood plains of river Yamuna, the National Green Tribunal has ruled.
The NGT bench, headed by Justice Swatantra Kumar, also fined the Delhi Development Authority Rs. 5 lakh for granting permission without conducting inspections. The court directed the Delhi Pollution Control Board Rs. 1 lakh as penalty.
The tribunal also asked AOL to give an undertaking by Thursday that enzymes will not be released into Yamuna River and that no further degradation of environment will happen. Besides slapping the fines, the tribunal directed AOL to develop the entire area in question into a biodiversity park.
On Friday, PM Modi is to open the festival that will feature yoga and meditation sessions, peace prayers and cultural performances. A separate enclosure is being set up for him close to the gate but amid security concerns, it is not clear whether he will finally attend.
A civic team has told the police that the seven-acre stage set up for over 35,000 artistes and visitors from 150 countries is unsafe, and a separate one should be built for the prime minister and other VIPs.
The foundation has spent a total of Rs. 25.63 crores on the event.
The Tribunal also slapped a fine of Rs. five lakhs on the Delhi Development Authority and Rs. one lakh on the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) –which it described as ‘incompetent — for not discharging their statutory functions.