New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday slammed the Art of Living Foundation over its founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar blaming the Centre and the green panel for damage to the Yamuna floodplains, terming it as “shocking”.
“You have no sense of responsibility. Who gave you liberty to speak whatever you want to. It is shocking ,” a bench headed by NGT chairperson justice Swatanter Kumar said.
The observations came after advocate Sanjay Parikh, appearing for petitioner Manoj Misra, informed the bench about Shankar’s recent statement blaming the government and the NGT for permitting the Art of Living (AOL) to hold the World Culture Festival on the floodplains of river Yamuna.
Parikh told the NGT that the spiritual guru has gone to the extent of levelling allegations against the body.
The lawyer said that Shankar had posted the statement on the AOL website, his Facebook page and also addressed the media in a written statement.
The counsel appearing for AOL contested the findings of the expert panel and said that they have certain objections with regard to the findings of the committee and sought setting aside of the report.
The bench then directed the AOL and other parties in the case to file their response and objection within two weeks and posted the matter for further hearing on May 9.
On April 18, Shankar had blamed the government and the NGT for permitting AOL to hold the festival on the Yamuna river bed and said that they should be held responsible if any environmental damage had been caused.
He said AOL had obtained all necessary permissions, including from the green panel and the event could have been stopped in the beginning itself if the Yamuna was so “fragile and pure”.
An expert committee has told the NGT that a whopping Rs 42.02 crore would be required to restore Yamuna floodplains which was ravaged due to a cultural extravaganza organised by AOL last year.
The committee has suggested that there should be two components of rehabilitation plan – physical and biological and they would cost Rs 28.73 crore and Rs 13.29 crore respectively, besides additional ancillary expenses.