National News

Handed over World Culture Festival venue to Delhi government, says Art of Living

Environmental consultant Rakesh Rajan said the site was given back to the Delhi Development Authority after cleaning up the garbage.

The Art of Living Foundation has handed over the the site they used for their 35th anniversary festivities more than a month after the event was hosted on the Yamuna floodplains in Delhi, reported Hindustan Times. Environmental consultant Rakesh Rajan said the site was given back to the Delhi Development Authority after cleaning up the garbage that had accumulated over the three days of the World Culture Festival. He said the Foundation has followed a thorough process to clean the place and assess the impact to make sure that no harm was done to the environment.

“We started with visual assessment of the site by photographing the environmental indicators. We conducted 6-7 site visits and created a photographic inventory. A huge amount of money has been spent to sanitise the site and every single bit of garbage has been handpicked and removed,” Ranjan said. He added that grass has started growing back on the site on its own, and that was an indicator that the event had minimal impact of the environment.

On April 22, the National Green Tribunal pulled up the Sri Sri Ravi Shankar-led organisation for not allowing inspections at the site. The NGT asked AOL why and with what authority it had restricted access to a high-powered committee, set up by the tribunal. To this, the Foundation’s counsel had said that they were still cleaning up the site when the team arrived on April 15, and they wanted the team to return once they had handed the area back over to the DDA on April 18.

The green tribunal had fined the foundation Rs 5 crore for causing damage to the floodplains through the massive festival. The committee told the NGT that the foundation had only paid the initial Rs 25 lakh of the fine, and was yet to pay the rest. The NGT had earlier estimated an appropriate fine of Rs 120 crore, it settled on the Rs 5-crore figure after a long set of deliberations.

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