New Delhi | The National Green Tribunal today sought response from Delhi government and Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on a plea seeking review of its order allowing the Art of Living group’s cultural extravaganza on the Yamuna floodplains here last month.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar issued notices to Arvind Kejriwal government, DDA and Art of Living foundation and asked them to respond to the review plea filed by Manoj Mishra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan. We have gone through the review plea. The whole emphasis in your petition is on the delay and laches. See, we have only passed an interim order and the matter is yet to be heard finally on merits. All rights and contentions are kept open and no direction is required at this stage…Issue notice, the bench said.
During the proceedings, the bench also issued notice to Mishra on a separate application filed by AOL seeking to pay penalty imposed in the form of a bank guarantee and extension of time for payment of the remainder amount. Advocate Sanjay Parikh, representing Mishra, strongly opposed the plea for furnishing a bank guarantee and extension of time. He also referred to some recent photographs and said the event has damaged the floodplains of Yamuna.
They (AOL) had given an undertaking before the tribunal that they would pay the amount in three weeks and now they are coming for extension of time. This is subversion of rule of law and the tribunal’s orders, Parikh said.
The tribunal, however, said it would not express an opinion at this stage and asked Misra to record his objections by way of a written response. This is something very serious. We are not saying anything at this stage. Law will take its own course, the bench said. Referring to a letter sent by the Principal Committee on Yamuna, the tribunal asked AOL by what time it planned to vacate the site on the river to enable inspection of the floodplains by the Committee to assess the damage done.
To this, the counsel appearing for AOL said it was in the process of vacating the site. Mishra has challenged the March 9 order which dismissed his petition on the ground of delay and laches on the part of the applicant in approaching the Tribunal.
The green panel on March 9 had refused to prohibit the ‘World Culture Festival’ but slapped a fine of Rs five crore on Art of Living (AOL) foundation for damaging biodiversity and aquatic life of Yamuna. Later on March 11, AOL moved a plea seeking four weeks time to deposit the amount after which the NGT allowed the foundation to deposit Rs 25 lakh on that day and granted three weeks to pay the balance amount.