Skip to main content

Fate of Yamuna floodplain still hangs in "balance" despite National Green Tribunal rap on Sri Sri event

By Ashok Shrimali*
While the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday reportedly pulled up the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) for granting permission to hold spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's World Culture Festival on the banks of Yamuna, the chief petitioners against the high-profile event Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan has declared, the “fate of the floodplain still hangs in balance.”
Next date of hearing for the high-profile event, which is to see the participation of the Prime Minister and the President, is either Monday (March 7) or Tuesday (March 8) in the event Monday is declared a holiday.
While the DDA told the NGT that it had reason to “stop” the function now, Abhiyan convener Manoj Misra said in a statement that “It was the DDA got totally expose itself on its science and ‘art’ of decision making with regard to the Yamuna flood plains.
“The DDA advocate was hard put to defend its approval dated December 15, 2015 given to Sri Sri’s Art of Living (AOL) event”, it said, adding, “The DDA admitted it had “withdrawn in mid-2015 an ‘approval’ to AOL which, it had earlier claimed had never been given.”
The second time it withdrew its permission was on November 30, 2015 in order to quickly provide a fresh and final permission on December 15, 2015”, Abhiyan said, adding”, DDA counsel had no convincing answer to the bench's query that what had changed from the earlier reasons of rejection.”
“While initially the DDA counsel stated that the DDA had no details of the planned event and the fact that it was going to be so huge in extent. Later it emerged during cross questioning by the bench that AOL had indeed given some area details which included 20 ha of sitting space, 1.5 ha of platform and 2.4 ha of parking space” the Abhiyan said.
“DDA counsel also could not explain as to why in its approval letter it talks only of maintaining a safe distance from the river edge without specifying what that safe distance would mean. Interestingly the same counsel went on to admit that the construction was happening right next to the river and even within the river”, Abhiyan said,
“While admitting that the AOL had exceeded the permission given to it and at one point the DDA stand seemed like the AOL and DDA were opposite parties in the case, soon it became clear that the DDA was only trying to save its own skin in the matter”, Abhiayan said, adding, “The million dollar question remains that since DDA admits that AOL has violated / exceeded its permission then what prevents it from withdrawing the approval under para 6 of its approval letter.”
“Following this, Abhiyan said, there is a question mark on DDA as competent and reliable agency to look after the river flood plain in the city”, Abhiyan said, wondering, “Why should not all such correspondences and the decision making processes always be made public soonest these are taken.”
“How can a private organisation come to gain such a clout that it can bend any agency and any law / rules to meet its ends?”, asks Abhiyan, wondering, “While DDA was at pains to try and defend its approval as not being in the teeth of the NGT orders, the fact remains that it very much is and we in our reply are going to clearly establish how DDA approval is illegal and ab initio void.”
---
*Senior activist based in Ahmedabad, secretary-general, mines, minerals and People (mm&P)

Comments

TRENDING

Green revolution "not sustainable", Bt cotton a failure in India: MS Swaminathan

Counterview Desk
In a recent paper in the journal “Current Science”, distinguished scientist PC Kesaven and his colleague MS Swaminathan, widely regarded as the father of the Green Revolution, have argued that Bt insecticidal cotton, widely regarded as the continuation of the Green Revolution, has been a failure in India and has not provided livelihood security for mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers.
Sharply taking on Green Revolution, the authors say, it has not been sustainable largely because of adverse environmental and social impacts, insisting on the need to move away from the simplistic output-yield paradigm that dominates much thinking. Seeking to address the concerns about local food security and sovereignty as well as on-farm and off-farm social and ecological issues associated with the Green Revolution, they argue in favour of what they call sustainable ‘Evergreen Revolution’, based on a ‘systems approach’ and ‘ecoagriculture’.
Pointing out that Evergreen Revol…

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Some Hindu bodies in US defending BJP-RSS' divisive, violent activities: Agnivesh

Counterview Desk Last week, Washington DC saw speakers at a religious freedom roundtable, chaired by the US Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, express concern over "eroding" space for religious freedom in India. Dr Mike Ghouse, executive director, of the Center for Pluralism in Washington DC, referring to the roundtable, said in an email alert that Indian-Americans have "a moral duty to prevent India from being labeled as a Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)".

Rejoinder: Inescapable to have Central Water Commission as strong technical body in India

By BN Navalawala*
This is with reference to Counterview Blog (December 5, 2018), "Modi govt 'shelves' water reforms report, shows 'no interest' in its recommendations", below mentioned are my comments/observations thereon:
A committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Dr. Mihir Shah, Former Member, Planning Commission, for restructuring of Central Water Commission (CWC) and Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) for optimal development of water resources in the country in the backdrop of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.

Preventing childhood deaths: India performs worse than Bangladesh, "equals" Pakistan

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released study, “The Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report 2018”, prepared by the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has identified India among 15 other countries which are still far off the mark in achieving the targets of the Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD).

60 ex-civil servants seek release of CAG reports on Rafale, demonetisation before 2019 polls

Counterview Desk
As many as 60 retired civil servants have asked President Ram Nath Kovind to expedite the release of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports on demonetisation and the Rafale deal. The letter, signed mainly by former Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service and Indian Police Service officers, regrets that the status of the audit is "unclear”. According to them, “An impression is gaining ground that CAG is deliberately delaying its audit reports on demonetisation and Rafale deal till after the May 2019 elections so as not to embarrass the present government”.

India's rewritten textbooks talk of demerits of democracy, praise Hitler, underrate Mughals

Counterview Desk
A detailed, 3,800-word review of the books rewritten under directions of the BJP rulers across India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in May 2014 has suggested that one of aims of the books is to instill a sense of doubt about India’s democratic polity among the country’s young minds. Reviewed in the prestigious US journal, “The New York Review of Books”, in its latest issue (December 6, 2018) by Alex Traub, the scrutiny insists, the effort has also been to paint Indian history from the angle of “Hindu triumphalism”, even as creating “Islamophobia”.

Govt of India "tarnishing" NGO reputation, dossier leaked selectively: Amnesty

Counterview Desk
Amnesty International India has said that a deliberate attempt is being made to tarnish its reputation by leaking a dossier, supposedly made by investigating agencies, to media without giving it access to any such information. The high profile NGO’s claim follows a Times Now report about proceedings launched by investigative agencies, including Enforcement Directorate (ED) against the rights body for “violations” of rules pertaining to overseas donations.

Four children die after poor UP Dalit, Muslim families forced to flee to forest area: PVCHR

Counterview Desk
Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) has said that the forest department police’s crackdown, allegedly without any prior notice, on Dalit and Muslim households in Dakhin Tola, Churk Bazaar, Sonbhadra district, Uttar Pradesh, beating up “children and old people, women, and men in an inhuman way”, has led to “forced displacement, starvation and discrimination”. This has reportedly affected about 350 people.