The National Green Tribunal
(NGT) on Thursday slammed Art of Living
over Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's statement blaming Centre and green panel for Yamuna
damage. NGT stated, "You have no sense of responsibility. Do you think you have the liberty to say whatever you want?"
The environment court went on to say that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's statement of alleged bias in NGT committee report on Yamuna
riverbed damage is "shocking".
It has directed Art of Living
and other parties to file reply and objections to expert panel report Yamuna
flood plain damage due to the World Culture Festival, which was organised last year.
A team of experts has testified to the National Green Tribunal
that the event, which covered several hundred acres, "completely destroyed" the riverbed. They said reversing the damage will take at least 10 years and about 42 crores.
Sri Sri, 60, and the Art of Living
Foundation, which was founded by him, has denied all allegations of damaging the fragile ecosystem of the Yamuna.
"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," he said in a Facebook post.
NGT will continue to hear plea alleging environmental degradation on Yamuna
floodplains due the World Culture Festival, which was organised last year.
Earlier in the month, after the NGT stated that spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living
(AOL) was responsible for destroying the Yamuna
floodplain during the 'World Culture Festival', the foundation today cried foul while terming it to be a 'conspiracy.'
The foundation also asserted that its legal team will study the NGT report and decide on the future course of action.
"The report has been leaked to the media once again even as we were getting hold of our copy. This was expected from them as their malfide intentions to malign us, has been evident since the beginning," said Kedar Desai, the spokesperson of The Art of Living.
In a statement, Desai also said that the NGT's expert committee, which was supposed to be non-interested parties to the case and were to act as the eyes and ears of the judges, have given biased interviews in public while the case is sub-judice.
"How come Shri CR Babu who is one of the senior-most member of the Committee gave a media interview maligning The Art of Living
by concluding that WCF had caused damage even before any assessment was done. This shows bias beyond doubt," he added.
The NGT appointed Committee of Experts earlier found the AOL foundation responsible for destroying the entire Yamuna
floodplain area used by the foundation for its event during the 'World Culture Festival' earlier in March 2016.
The expert panel told the NGT that the rehabilitation of Yamuna
floodplains destroyed by AOL's 'World Culture Festival' will cost Rs. 13.29 crores and take almost 10 years.
The green panel had last year allowed the AOL to hold the three-day 'World Culture Festival' on the Yamuna
flood plains but following the event the former slapped a fine of Rs. 5 crore as interim environment compensation on the foundation for damaging biodiversity of the ecologically sensitive floodplains.