NGT orders demolition of building of Ravi Shankar’s charitable body in Kolkata wetlands
Vaidic Dharma Sansthan (VDS) had ignored notices sent by East Kolkata Wetlands Management Authority (EKWMA) and built the structure since July-August 2015.Updated: Oct 27, 2017 19:25 IST
The National Green Tribunal has ordered the demolition of a three-storied building belonging to spiritual guru Ravi Shankar’s organisation on the East Kolkata Wetlands (EKW), which is of ecological importance to Kolkata.
The tribunal’s eastern zonal bench, in its October 25 order, asked the EKW Management Authority (EKWMA) to demolish the structure belonging to Vaidic Dharma Sansthan (VDS) within three months and also consider imposing a penalty.
VDS had ignored notices sent by EKWMA, which comes under the West Bengal government’s environment department, and built the structure since July-August 2015.
Despite having powers, EKWMA did not demolish the illegal building, following which an NGO, People United for Better Living in Calcutta (PUBLIC) filed a petition before the green tribunal in 2016.
Sakabda Roy, counsel for VDS refused to comment. A mail sent to the organisation on Friday elicited no response.
Pradip Kakkar of PUBLIC said they would monitor the implementation of the order in letter and spirit.
The East Kolkata Wetlands, which is spread across 125 sqkm on the eastern outskirts of Kolkata, serves as an environmental safety valve for the city by organically treating 1,000 million litres of sewage released daily.
It was noted as a global model by the Geneva-headquartered Ramsar Convention, an international body for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands in March this year.
The tribunal’s bench comprising justice S P Wangdi and professor P C Mishra asked the EKWMA to complete the demolition within three months and file a compliance report by the first week of February 2018.
The order can be challenged in the Supreme Court.
During the course of the hearing at the NGT, Vaidic Dharma Sansthan filed a writ petition in the Calcutta high court of Calcutta, which ordered EKWMA to give VDS a hearing.
Following the hearing, the EKWMA concluded that the construction was raised on farmland, which is illegal, and was also done without permission from the EKWMA and civic authorities. On October 24, EKWMA said that the application of VDS had no merit.
The next day, NGT issued the demolition order.