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‘You’re irresponsible’: NGT slams Sri Sri’s group over Yamuna floodplains damage

The remark came following Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s statement that the NGT should be held responsible if the Yamuna floodplain was damaged.

delhi Updated: Apr 27, 2017 17:39 IST
Joydeep Thakur
Joydeep Thakur
Hindustan Times
NGT,Art of Living,Yamuna floodplain
The three-day extravaganza had grabbed headlines for allegedly polluting and harming the ecosystem.(AP File)

The National Green Tribunal expressed its displeasure over the statement issued by the founder of Art of Living Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, in which the spiritual guru had claimed that the Centre, green panel and Delhi government should be held responsible for any damaged caused.

“It is shocking,” observed the green tribunal’s bench headed NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar. “You have no sense of responsibility. Do you think you have the liberty to say whatever and wherever you want?” the NGT bench asked the Art of Living’s counsel.

Meanwhile, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said the allegations that Art of Living’s three-day event last year had damaged the Yamuna floodplains, were false. “When lies are exposed, it is shocking,” he said.

In a statement issued on Tuesday Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had said: “If, at all, any fine has to be levied, it should be levied on the Central and State Governments and the NGT, itself, for giving the permission. If the Yamuna was so fragile and pure, they should have stopped the World Culture Festival at the very beginning.”

He went on criticising the expert panel appointed by the green tribunal. The panel in its report suggested that it would take more than Rs 42 crores and at least 10 years to rehabilitate the floodplains after the damage caused by the Art of Living’s three day festival in March 2016. The Art of Living, however, maintained that there was nothing wrong in the statements and it was just an opinion given by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

“We were well within our jurisdiction. No irresponsible statements were issued by us,” said Kedar Desai, spokesperson of the Art of Living.

The petitioner’s counsel urged the tribunal to pass directions so that work on rehabilitating the Yamuna floodplains allegedly damaged by the three-day cultural event, could be started immediately.

“The Art of Living has already deposited Rs 5 crore as compensation. We should start restoration work with that money immediately as valuable time would be lost,” said the petitioner’s counsel.

The proposal was however vehemently opposed by the counsel of Art of Living saying that their objections against the expert panel’s report haven’t been heard.

First Published: Apr 20, 2017 12:50 IST