Yamuna damage: NGT slams Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for alleging bias

20 Apr 2017


The National Green Tribunal today slammed spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for alleging bias in a tribunal committee's recent report on Yamuna riverbed damage caused by his foundation.

The report criticised the Art of Living Foundation's World Culture Festival, held in March last year, for damaging the Yamuna riverbank and went to quantify the damage caused.

The NGT, which functions directly under the Supreme Court, today termed Ravi Shankar's statements alleging bias as "shocking" and also slammed Art of Living.

"You have no sense of responsibility. Do you think you have the liberty to say whatever you want?" the NGT bench asked, setting the next date of hearing to 9 May.

Responding to the statement of the NGT, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has said that Art Of Living has done no wrong.

"The truth is we have caused no damage to the Yamuna. When lies are exposed, it is shocking," he said.

The tribunal also directed Art of Living and other parties to file their replies and objections to the expert panel's report.

An expert committee recently told the NGT that it would cost Rs13.29 crore and take around 10 years to mitigate the damage caused to the Yamuna floodplains by AOL's event last year.

The expert committee was headed by Shashi Shekhar, union secretary water resources.

"It has been estimated that approximately 120 hectares (about 300 acres) of floodplains of west (right bank) of the river Yamuna and about 50 hectares (120 acres) floodplains of the eastern side (left bank) of the river have been adversely impacted ecologically at different magnitudes," the report had said.

"The ground is now totally levelled, compacted and hardened and is totally devoid of water bodies or depressions and almost completely devoid of any vegetation," the 47-page report said.

"The area where the grand stage was erected (and the area immediately behind it) is heavily consolidated - most likely with a different kind of external material used to level the ground and compress it," the committee added.

Responding to the report, Art of Living said, "This report is completely flawed, unscientific and biased.

"We have placed significant material on record before the NGT which clearly shows the committee is biased. Our application in this regard has not yet been heard," Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was quoted as saying in a statement by news agency IANS.

"From randomly pronouncing damages of Rs120 crore, they have come down to Rs13 crore; from permanent damage, they are now saying 10 years. From damage to wetlands, they are now saying damage to floodplains. Their inconsistencies expose their lies," the statement further added.

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