AoL to set up bio-diversity park at Yamuna floodplain

New Delhi, March 14 (IANS) The Art of Living (AoL), headed by spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, on Monday said it was committed to setting up a bio-diversity park at the Yamuna floodplain.

“We are working with environmental experts as per the directions of the (National Green Tribunal, NGT) to set up the bio-diversity park at Yamuna floodplain. We are committed to cleanse the river and we will do it,” Akshama Nath, a lawyer of AoL, told IANS.

But AoL did not say if it would pay the environment compensation of Rs.5 crore slapped by the NGT within the stipulated time.

“Money is not the issue here. There is already enough (money) in the account of various agencies but they are not bringing it to use. As far as we are concerned, we still have three weeks time for it,” she said.

“Whether we approach the Supreme Court or not is yet to be finalised,” Nath said.

But the Delhi Development Authority has confirmed that it received Rs.25 lakh on Friday from AoL as the first installment of the ‘green compensation’.

“We got the amount on Friday after the court hearing,” DDA counsel in NGT Rajiv Bansal told IANS.

An expert committee comprising senior officials of the Central Pollution Control Board, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Ministry of Water Resources and Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) will inspect the Yamuna floodplain this week.

The committee will submit a detailed report about the ecological degradation that may have been caused by the three-day World Culture Festival of AoL that ended on Sunday, DPCC officials said.

The NGT had ordered the committee to submit its report within four weeks after the festival ended so that the environmental losses can be assessed.

Activists approached the NGT against the event, accusing the AoL of damaging the ecological balance at the fragile river plain.

The tribunal allowed the event to go ahead after slapping an initial environment compensation of Rs.5 crore on AoL. The total amount will be decided by the tribunal later.

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