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Yamuna floodplain was in a "sordid" condition prior to the holding of the three-day World Culture Festival, the Art of Living (AoL) foundation of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar today told the National Green Tribunal.
Referring to a report of the Principal Committee, dated April 19, 2014, AoL told the green panel that cultural and religious activities were permitted at the site and there was no bar on holding of the extravaganza.
The NGT set up the Principal Committee to see the execution of Yamuna cleaning.
"It is submitted that the event site was in a sordid state, to say the least. Even with regard to the state of the floodplains in so far as debris dumping was concerned, the situation was admittedly no better," advocate Nikhil Sakhardande, appearing for AoL, said.
The AoL told a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar that it was a "pre-requisite" for the seven- member expert panel to know about the status of the floodplains prior to the event before coming to the conclusion whether any damage was caused by holding it there last year.
It said the seven-member expert committee, which has held the organisation responsible for the damage, has undertaken an exercise on a "completely erroneous factual matrix".
On the issue of damage to wetlands on the site, the AoL said that the committee has completely erred in assuming that the event site had such water bodies.
"First and foremost, no wetlands existed on the event site as contemplated by the legal regime or otherwise. It is submitted that in order to consider any land as a wetland, it is imperative that the statutory procedure and process by which such land is identified and declared to be a wetland is followed in its entirety," it said.
The hearing remained inconclusive and will continue tomorrow.