‘Meet the Tribal Woman in Coimbatore Who Is Standing Up to Isha Foundation’ by Subhashini Ali, was published on September 27, 2017. The article weaves one fabricated story into another to create a highly biased narrative against Isha Foundation. Below, we give readers the truth.
The article starts with the story of Muthamma, twisting a few facts to produce fiction. The fact is Muthamma is a tribal woman who worked at the ashram around 20 years ago.
In the article, the author claims that Isha Foundation illegally took possession of 44 acres of land that were assigned to the landless poor. Isha Foundation has never indulged in such activities. The fact is, Isha does not have any connection with those 44 acres of land in the area. All it takes is a local verification to reveal that this entire land-grabbing tale is false.
Muthamma has filed a case against Isha Foundation regarding allegedly illegal structures on wetlands at the Chennai High Court. There has been no illegal construction. Muthamma’s statement is false. The matter is sub judice.
Muthamma in an interview to Sathiyam TV which was telecast on March 3, 2017 has stated that there is no land for her people to reside in that area and there is no employment opportunity. That it is only for that reason that they have filed this writ petition. It is clear that a group of people are operating with a malicious intent to defame Isha Foundation.
Adiyogi statue and illegal construction?
Next, the article claims that the Adiyogi statue which was unveiled by the prime minister was built without permission. Here, we lay out the facts for you.
By associating the term “building” with Adiyogi, it wilfully accuses and defames Isha Foundation. Adiyogi is not a building but a 112-ft statue made of steel. It has been installed with requisite permissions from The District Collector, Coimbatore, The District Forest Officer, Coimbatore and also from BSNL authorities. Refer to the table below.
|2.||15-11-2016||DFO (Forest Department)||Na.Ka.V1/5589/2016|
Regarding the supposed construction of Adiyogi on so-called wetlands, the revenue divisional officer and the superintendent of police, Coimbatore called for reports on the land and scrutinised them. The district collector inspected the land and gave a ‘No Objection’ for the said land to be used for non-agricultural purposes. This was granted after ascertaining that there were no standing crops nor any cultivation in the pertaining field for three fasli years.
The article makes false statements about Isha Foundation illegally constructing many buildings. The fact: all the buildings of Isha Foundation have been approved. A technical clearance has been obtained by the Directorate of Town and Country Planning.
Pollution of Noyyal river?
The article alleges that Isha Foundation is polluting the Noyyal River. Actually, Noyyal flows nowhere near the ashram. Isha Foundation has neither blocked nor polluted the Noyyal, nor the small stream that does flow nearby the ashram. The district agriculture engineering department, public works department and revenue department have inspected the entire land holdings of the ashram and the course of the stream several times, and there have been no negative reports.
The article falsely claims that the ashram is built upon an elephant corridor. It is a futile attempt to establish an elephant corridor where there is none. The principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) himself has categorically stated otherwise. Officials from the Tamil Nadu forest department have verified that Isha Yoga Centre is not constructed on forest land or an elephant corridor. It is constructed on 100% patta land. (Read about the RTI and response from the PCCF here.)
For the last 20 years, the same accusations have been going on without any substance. It is time that this pulp fiction ends. Every concerned authority has looked into every aspect of the foundation and the foundation has come clean of these fictitious allegations.
Rahul Dubey is a volunteer with the Isha Foundation