Environment

Art of Living’s Remarks on Expert Panel Irresponsible: NGT

AOL termed the expert committer’s report that found that the cultural festival organised by it had caused possible irreversible damage to the Yamuna floodplain as biased.

The Art of Living Foundation paid only Rs. 25 lakhs of the fine the National Green Tribunal imposed on it for damaging the Yamuna floodplain. Credit: PTI

The Art of Living Foundation caused great ecological damage to the Yamuna floodplain by levelling the ground for temporary use during its World Culture Festival. Credit: Credit: PTI

New Delhi : The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Monday, termed the public statements made by Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living (AOL) as “very irresponsible” after an expert panel gave its report on the Yamuna that the organisation’s cultural extravaganza had “completely destroyed” the riverbed.

The bench’s remarks came during the hearing when the counsel for AOL sought extension of time by three weeks for submitting its response to the expert committee’s report.

“The statements which your client (AOL) had made were very irresponsible. The media reports clearly stated what your client has said. What your client has done is very irresponsible,” a bench headed by NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar said.

In its statement to the media, the AOL had termed the expert committee’s report, submitted to the NGT, as “biased” and said it “contains no analysis, no in-depth investigation, no reports of any scientific tests to support the conclusions. The conclusions in the report are merely the opinion of the expert committee without scientific basis. The report does not reflect the true state of the ground.”

The issue came up when AOL’s counsel sought time to file a response to the report, while the counsel for petitioner and environmentalist Manoj Kumar Mishra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan said the organisation has already formed its opinion on it as it released the statement to the media just a day after expert panel’s report.

“The very next day they formed their opinion. If they want time, why did they make their opinion in media,” the counsel for the petitioner said.

To this, AOL’s advocate claimed that the organisation had not done any such thing as alleged by the opposite side and argued that it should not be made a media trial.

The tribunal, however, granted a week’s time to AOL to file its response to the committee’s report.

“From the averments made in the application, there is hardly any ground for extension of time. We grant one week’s time for filing response. Reply be positively filed by September 12,” the bench said, while posting the matter for September 28.

AOL had on August 31 moved the tribunal seeking extension of time for submitting its response to the report.

A seven-member expert committee headed by Shashi Shekhar, secretary of Ministry of Water Resources, had opined that the three-day ‘World Culture Festival’ organised by AOL had not only damaged the floodplain, but the ground too was “now totally levelled, compacted and hardened and is totally devoid of water bodies or depressions and almost completely devoid of any vegetation”.

  • Faculty147

    What a shame….AOL’s now using every trick in the book to beat the system…..delay tactics, dirty tricks they too have picked up……….while my ‘Yamuna Gently Weeps”…….I would think Sri Sri Ravi Shankar could clean the Yamuna with the wave of his hand (they call it ‘by divine powers’)……….they way a saint produced ‘ash’ with a wave of his hands.

  • K SHESHU BABU

    It is ironical that the BJP government supported the festival which destroyed the Yamuna river bed beyond repair. Now, the AOL and its supremo is not caring NGT and its summons and the explanation to its reservations on the conduct of the cultural festival. This explains the adament nature of Ravi Shankar and his organisation. The utter flaunting of pollution rules should be a cause of concern for environmental experts.