The law prevails

The law prevails

Context

NGT’s order on Art of Living rightly asserts the fundamental principle of green law — polluter must pay

What has happened?

The National Green Tribunal has closed the matter of the World Culture Festival held by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living (AoL) in March 2016, which had degraded the Yamuna floodplain in Delhi

NGT’s decision: AoL must pay

  • NGT has held that AoL has damaged the ecosystem of the plain and that the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) had wrongfully permitted it to conduct the event
  • The DDA has been directed to evaluate the damage and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s organisation must pay for the restoration of the flood plain
  • AoL had put up Rs 5 crore pursuant to an earlier order, but will now have to pay on actuals

NGT’s views

  • It has pointed out that a floodplain should not be regarded as waste or fallow land, but as a commons, since it is instrumental in the cleansing of river waters, recharging of aquifers and the maintenance of wetland habitats populated by numerous species
  • It has observed that the government and the people have a duty to protect it

Top-office bearers participated

But how could the government do its duty, when its top office-bearers had attended the event and shared the dais with the promoters? Only Pranab Mukherjee, then president, stayed away

Conclusion

It is heartening that the NGT has done its duty and gone by the book, demonstrating that the polluter pays principle, which is the bedrock of environmental law, must stand, no matter how well-connected and politically influential the perpetrator may be

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