Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Full text of NGT order: Rs 5 crore pass for Art of Living Foundation to run its WCF!

Read the full text of the NGT order passed today. The gist is:

  1. The Applicant (complainant) approached the NGT at a late stage (wrote to the Lt. Governor on 11.12.2015 but approached NGT only on 08.02.2016) and by then the damage was already done -- NGT now cannot stop the event and ask for removal of the construction material and restoration of the area at this stage.
  2. Applicant did not do full homework (did not challenge DDA's permission dated 30.06.2015) but still the case could not be rejected outright.
  3. Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) did not apply its mind when it said it was not required to give any permission in this case.  DPCC failed to discharge its statutory obligation despite the fact that the Foundation had submitted an application for obtaining its consent. The Board failed to exercise due diligence and  exercised its authority improperly. For all the trouble, DPCC got away with a cost of Rs. 1 lakh imposed on it.
  4. Art of Living Foundation submitted its application to all the agencies:
    • Police Department, Fire Department did nothing (not give permission or stop any action): NGT said they failed to exercise due diligence in fulfilment of their public duties.
    • Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation did nothing (did not give permission or stop any action): NGT said, in terms of the Notification dated 31st July, 2014, this Ministry is the Authority responsible for conservation, development, management and control of water pollution of River Yamuna -- it failed to exercise due diligence in fulfilment of their public duties.
    • Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change: NGT did not accept the contention of the ministry that it was not required for the Foundation to seek Environmental Clearance for the project relating to all matters of construction etc. as afore-referred. It noted that the stand of MoEF&CC is contrary to the Notification, particularly with respect to development of an area of more than 50 ha. as contained in the EIA Notification, 2006.
    • Government of NCT of Delhi: NGT noted that the permission granted by the Delhi Government was of no consequence as it was permission only for flood situation (flood in March -- I wish!).
    • DDA: Permission granted dated 30.06.2015: NGT noted that this was a vague permission. It said in its order,"the permission is not in consonance with the orders of the NGT and in fact is in excess of the powers vested in DDA which runs contrary to the spirit of the judgment of the Tribunal. This cannot be termed as a recreational activity simplicitor. Cultural activity could be recreational but the entire construction of ramps, roads, accumulation of debris, alteration of the natural topography and removal of natural vegetation from the flood plains, cannot be said to be recreational. It is a complete project in itself and the DDA ought to have applied its mind. Strangely, it has neither conducted inspection of the site prior to the grant of permission nor during operation or subsequent thereto. " For all this failure, DDA got a ticket of Rs 5 lakhs for failure to perform its statutory duties.
  5. The NGT ordered that the DDA shall not, in future, issue such permission and any permission issued by the DDA or any State/Authority in relation to flood plain of River Yamuna, shall be subject to the orders of the Tribunal.
  6. For the damage done, Art of Living is to deposit Rs 5 crore initially.
  7. The Principal Committee formed under the judgement to report on the steps needed for restoration and estimated cost within 4 weeks.
  8. The entire area in question shall be developed as a biodiversity park in terms of our judgment in the case of Manoj Mishra (supra).
  9. The cost thereof shall be paid by the Foundation and DDA in the proportion as would be directed by the Tribunal finally.  
The above is a good example of poor laws and terrible enforcement.