17/08/2016 11:00 AM IST | Updated 17/08/2016 11:17 AM IST

Sri Sri Event Completely Destroyed Yamuna's Floodplain, Says Expert Panel

The report said that it has caused loss of biodiversity that may never return.

Adnan Abidi / Reuters
Workers load chairs on a truck at the venue after the three-day long World Cultural Festival in New Delhi.

The massive 'World Culture Festival' held on the banks of the river Yamuna in Delhi by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living (AOL) has "completely destroyed" the Yamuna floodplain, a group of experts has told the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

The NGT had appointed a team to assess the damage caused to the Yamuna floodplain in Delhi where the 'World Culture Festival' was held last March.

The experts have now found that the "entire floodplain area used for the main event site" has been "completely destroyed" causing "invisible loss of biodiversity" that "may never be able to return".

"The ground is now totally levelled, compacted and hardened, totally devoid of water bodies or depressions, and almost completely devoid of any vegetation," said the report submitted by the seven-member panel.

The report also said that most of the ecosystem functions of natural wetlands have been completely lost. It also said that the floodplain has lost almost all of its natural vegetation.

"This is an 'invisible' loss of biodiversity which cannot be easily assessed, and most may never be able to return," it said.

Meanwhile, AOL told the Indian Express that they will soon submit their objections to the report, calling it 'biased and unscientific.'

"It is clear that the allegation of environmental damage are unscientific, biased and unsustainable. We will submit our objections to the report in detail once we have had a chance to go through it," said in a statement.

On 10 August, when a previous report by the panel had said that AOL had caused damage to the Yamuna floodplains, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar tweeted saying, "Expert Committee of the NGT is blind and biased."

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