New Delhi: In its hearing on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living three-day 'World Culture Festival', the National Green Tribunal (NGT) today questioned the Centre as to why there wasn't a need of environmental clearance for raising structures in the Yamuna Flood plains. The green body has asked the Centre to justify their decision by filing an affidavit by tomorrow.
"You (MoEF) file an affidavit by tomorrow and tell us why no environmental clearance is needed for raising temporary structures in flood plains," said a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Swantanter Kumar.
The direction came after counsel appearing for Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) said that they have found no debris at the site when an expert team had visited. It further contended that as per the Environment Impact Assessment notification 2006, no environment clearance was needed for temporary structures.
The green panel also questioned the building up of pontoon bridges by the Army on the Yamuna for the festival, and asked the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) counsel for a clarification on who gave the permission for setting it up.
The DDA, Delhi government and the MoEF all said that they had no relation with the grant of permission for setting up the pontoon bridge as they were all concerned only with different issues.
While DDA said it was only required to give a no objection certificate for the bridge, Delhi government submitted that its role for the pontoon bridge comes only at the time of floods. The MoEF, meanwhile, passed the buck on Ministry of Water Resources.
Advocate Rajiv Bansal appearing for DDA backed the authority's decision to grant permission for the event saying that it has given the nod with conditions that no permanent construction will be permitted without permission from the competent authority.
"The area is meant for recreational activity. The area is with DDA and it is the competent authority. Permission was granted after taking proper legal opinion which was conditional that no permanent structure will be constructed and also that it will be subject to permissions from other concerned authorities," he said.
Art of Living (AOL) in its submission said that it had taken the requisite permissions from all the authorities except from the police which is subject to permission from fire department and they have fulfilled all the conditions.
The bench after hearing the matter adjourned the matter for tomorrow. The NGT is hearing pleas seeking stoppage of ongoing construction on the flood plains for the Cultural festival.
The festival is to be held from March 11th to 13th. About two to three lakh people are expected to attend the mega event.
(With PTI inputs)