Sri Sri slammed for blaming Govt, NGT for damage to Yamuna plains

| | New Delhi

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday termed as “shocking” the charge levelled by spiritual figure Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and his NGO ‘Art of Living’ against the Government and the green panel for the damage to the Yamuna floodplains, saying he had “no sense of responsibility”.

“You have no sense of responsibility. Just because you have filed an application doesn’t give you the liberty to say whatever you want to. It is shocking,” a Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.

Two days ago, Ravi Shankar had blamed the Government and the NGT for permitting AOL to hold the festival on the Yamuna river bed and said they should be held responsible if any environmental damage was caused.

The strong remarks by the NGT came after advocate Sanjay Parikh, appearing for petitioner Manoj Misra, informed the Bench about Ravi Shankar’s recent statement blaming the Government and the NGT for permitting his NGO to hold the three-day World Culture Festival on the Yamuna floodplains from March 11-13 last year.

The NGT had then allowed AOL to hold the festival while expressing helplessness in banning the event saying it was a “fait accompli”.

Parikh also told the green Bench that the AOL head has been repeatedly levelling allegations against the NGT.

He said Ravi Shankar had posted a statement on the website of the AOL and his Facebook page and also addressed the media in a written statement.

Hours after the hearing, AOL issued a statement saying it has requested the Bench to hear its application on the “bias” of the Expert Committee members.

“Counsel of Manoj Misra read out the statement from the Art of Living website. The tribunal did not consider it. Media reports about the NGT coming down heavily on the Art of Living are not true,” a statement from AOL said.

During the hearing, Parikh said the initial amount of Rs five crore, which AOL had deposited as environment compensation, should be used for restoration of the damaged Yamuna floodplains.

The court, however, did not consider this and directed the AOL and other parties in the case to file their responses and objections on the expert panel’s findings within two weeks after taking the report on record. It posted the matter for further hearing on May 9.

The counsel, appearing for the AOL foundation, contested the findings of the expert panel, saying they had certain objections to it and sought that the report be set aside.

On April 18, Ravi Shankar had blamed the government and the NGT for permitting AOL to hold the festival on the floodplains and said they should be held responsible if any environmental damage was caused.

The AOL head had said his foundation had obtained all necessary permissions, including from the green panel, and the event could have been stopped in the beginning itself if river Yamuna was so “fragile and pure”.

An expert committee had told the NGT that a whopping Rs 42.02 crore would be required to restore Yamuna floodplains which was ravaged due to the cultural extravaganza last year.

The expert panel had suggested that there would be two components of rehabilitation plan -- physical and biological, which would cost Rs 28.73 crore and Rs l3.29 crore respectively, besides additional ancillary expenses. 



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