Cultural Event Vs Environment Protection

Must Read

India’s International ‘Retrospective Taxation’ Regime Vis-a-Vis PCA Rulings in Vodafone and Cairn in 2020

The imposition of retrospective taxation of foreign companies doing business in India has been at the helm of controversy...

What is the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016?

The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (“RERA”) is an Act of the Parliament. It seeks to protect...

Should the Exorbitant Amounts Charged for RT-PCR Tests be Refunded?

Introduction A plea has been filed in the Honourable Supreme Court of India seeking a refund of exorbitant amounts charged...

Should CCTV’s be Installed in the Police Station?

Introduction In a recent judgment, the bench led by Justice Nariman issued directions to both the state and Union Territory...

A Legal Analysis of the West Bengal Political Crisis on IPS Deputation

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has recently summoned three IPS officers of West Bengal (WB). The decision was...

Explained: Postal Ballot for NRIs

At the end of November 2020, Election Commission sent a proposal to the law ministry to amend the Representation...

Follow us

Climate degradation has taken the  centre stage in the international forum. The Paris Summit or COP-21 concluded with a framework mechanism of tackling the menace of climate change and conserve the environment. The famous Paris Agreement has received worldwide appreciation. As many have applauded the agreement framed under common consonance and with a forward looking vision of conserving the environment, the agreement envisages to keep a check on practises leading to environment degradation and vowed to reduce the level of emissions.

The Indian delegation, under the leadership of Hon’ Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has played a key role in formulating the Paris Agreement. The International diplomacy with the inclusive role of Non-Governmental Organisations have managed to agree upon this benchmark agreement with an insight to protect and conserve the environment from further degradation, and keep a strong vigilance upon those encroaching it. In India, the environment has a deep spiritual significance. Rivers like Ganga and Yamuna are considered to be holy, and many projects are proposed with foreign collaboration to initiate the cleaning of these holy rivers. Bio-diversity in India has both spiritual and cultural relevance. But, developmental activities have undermined their importance leading to large scale destruction by undertaking deforestation, quarrying, land degradation, etc. In the wake of these growing issues, many statutes were enacted such as Environment Protection Act, 1986, Water Act, 1974, Air Act, 1981, to name a few, . with the sole objective of safeguarding the environment. The establishment of National Green Tribunal on October 18, 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 passed by the Central Government, further provided a legal mechanism with separate judicial institution of keeping a check in case of any violation and further the objectives of safeguarding the environment.

. But, this article endows  an attempt to highlight a contemporary issue. The World Cultural Festival was was attended by “tens of thousands of people” from India and abroad. The capital city was honoured to be the host of this event, and not only domestic travellers, but travellers from across the world attended this event. The location of this event was near the floodplains of river Yamuna. Many efforts are undertaken to conserve the river, and many safety measures are adopted to reduce further deterioration of this holy river. But, the permission granted by Delhi Development Authority to organise the event on a massive scale near the floodplains has caught many eyebrows. Several environmentalist and like-minded citizens have questioned its validity. The National Green Tribunal has also taken cognisance of the issue, and taken steps to take measures in preventing a huge violation of environmental laws. The NGT had formed an Expert Committee, under the chairmanship of Shri Shashi Shekhar, Addl. Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forest, India, to investigate the ground level reality. The committee members extensively walked through the DND flyover and the floodplains of the Yamuna to flock together the ground level violations caused during the construction phase of the event. The committee has provided its recommendations to the National Green Tribunal, which states the imposition of fine upto Rs. 120 cr as damages on the Art of Living Foundation (who is going to orgainize the event) for causing gross violations to the environment. The foundation has contended that, due safety measures were taken during the construction phase, and construction is mostly undertaken with eco-friendly materials. But, the recommendations of the report seem to be the antithesis of the contention.

The observation provided by the report was after undertaking intensive field research and gathering all the available data. The report has clearly indicated the level of deterioration caused to the floodplains and its impact to the vegetation. But, the report nowhere recommended the cancellation of the event. Before we understand the directions provided by the committee, we must first analyse the observations made; based on which we can form an opinion regarding directions provided. The committee observed that the entire floodplain between the river and the DND flyover has been levelled flat. The natural vegetation has been removed and all the small water bodies have been filled up. The construction debris has been found to be dumped along the road, especially near the river margin. Apart from the removal of vegetation, most of the trees have also been removed. The construction of parking lots to accommodate the vehicles has resulted in mass scale degradation of land near the river. The committee also observed that, 650 portable toilets were constructed in order to avoid open defecation and facilitate public, but proper measures are highly doubted. The committee observed that the total area that has been impacted on the western side of the river would not be less than 50-60 hectares. In this entire area, the floodplains have been completely destroyed, the natural vegetation consisting of reeds and trees has been completely removed, and the large number of birds and other natural life that was supported by this floodplain has vanished due to this destruction.

The National Green Tribunal in its order dated January 13, 2015 directed the ecological restoration of river Yamuna. The committee found DDA in violation of the order for granting the Art of Living Foundation to organise this event on the floodplains. The committee was of the strong opinion for the imposition of fines upto Rs. 100-120crore after reviewing the appropriate penalty to be imposed, and cautioned that no such act must be tolerated that are causing destruction of the river and the vegetation. The committee further recommended that the fine imposed must be kept amongst the National Green Tribunal, so that such fund can be divested towards environmental activities aiming to protect and implement further measures efficiently. The committee also provided an iconic recommendation that the destruction caused must be restored within the period of one year starting from the date of the closing of the event. This recommendation can be a new alternative measure adopted which involves direct input by the party at fault, and can also be seen as a corrective measure. The participants were around 3.5 million and to accommodate such large number proper measures were expected to be taken. The committee directed that the limit should be restricted considering the holding capacity. In the end, the imposition of fines can be a deterrent measure, but yet many miles to cover to prevent such mis-happening in future. The role of the DDA for granting permission after denying it earlier raises many suspicions. The act of the DDA should be kept under the strict vigilance, and must be made accountable for violating any order delivered by NGT. The institution like the National Green Tribunal is required to be empowered with more independence to undertake its activities without any whims and fancies, and autonomy must be ensured so that the directions provided are strictly complied with.

The World Cultural Festival was  undeniably a huge event, but the process of organising it is highly speculative. The concern of environmental protection has a deep cultural sanctity in India. But, the ongoing events cast a different perspective.

Latest News

Doctrine of Proportionality Must Adhere to Reasonableness Principal Test: Madras High Court

Young Men's Christian Association built a commercial complex and leased it without having due permission. The District Collector & Tahsildar issued a show-cause notice...

Delhi High Court Refuses To Stay Release of ‘The White Tiger’ on the OTT Platform Netflix

A plea requesting a stay on the release of the film ‘The White Tiger’ by the American producer, John Hart Jr. alleging copyright violation was rejected by the Delhi High Court on Thursday.

“Anganwadi Centers to Be Reopened Outside the Containment Zones, Which Is to Be Decided by the State”: Supreme Court

This case concerns the reopening of the Anganwadi Centers after they had been closed due to the lockdown being imposed.  Brief facts of the case This...

“Credit Facilities Being Granted by the Primary Agricultural Credit Society to the Non-Members Is No Longer Illegal”: Supreme Court

This Case concerns the dispute relating to the grant of tax exemption under Section 80P of the Income Tax Act, 1961.  Brief facts of the...

Back Wages of Labourers is a Question of Facts Depending Upon Various Factors: Gujarat High Court

The petition has been filed by workmen and employer against an award dated 23.04.2009 passed by the Labour Court, Bhuj in the case of...

WhatsApp Messages Would Have No Evidentiary Value Until They Are Certified According to Section 65b of the Indian Evidence Act: Punjab & Haryana High...

Brief facts of the case Paramjit Kaur, the proprietor of Brioshine Pharma, a licensed chemist, booked two consignments. The first consignment, on 10.06.2020 and the,...

Delhi High Court Seeks Response From Centre, RBI in PIL to Regulate Online Lending Platforms

A notice had been issued by the Delhi HC in a PIL that sought regulation of online lending platforms (Dharanidhar Karimojji vs UOI). Brief Facts: The...

“Consensual Affair” Cannot Be Defence Against the Charge of Kidnapping of the Minor, Sentence Reduced in View of Age Difference: Supreme Court

This Case concerns the appeal against the conviction under the charges of kidnapping and discussed whether the punishment was to be enhanced or not.   Brief...

Delhi HC to Municipal Corp: Paucity of Funds Not an Excuse for Non-Payment of Salaries and Pensions

The Delhi High Court ruled that the paucity of funds cannot be an excuse and pulled up municipal corporations for not paying salaries and pensions to their employees as the right to receive payment is a fundamental right guaranteed in our constitution.

US Supreme Court Reinstates Restriction on Abortion Pills

The Supreme Court of the United States granted the Trump administration’s request to reinstate federal rules requiring women to make in-person visits to hospitals...

More Articles Like This

- Advertisement -