AGRA: The Art of Living founder Shri Shri has termed the NGT report as an example of “Scientific Fraud” and he will fight the lies. The National Green Tribunal appointed a committee which has recommended fining the spiritual leader’s AOL Foundation a sum of Rs.20 crores for damages to Yamuna Floodplains while preparing the stage for the World Culture Festival from March 11 to 13 on the banks of the river.
The committee gave its report on 17 August 2016 and said that area where the stage was created was compacted with foreign materials, and large quantities of earth and debris were unloaded to prepare the ramps and other structures to afford access to DND flyover and from the two pontoon bridges across the Barapullah drain.
The report also charged the event for destroying the natural habitat of various organisms in the area. There is an irreplaceable loss of biodiversity which will never return. The committee was set up in response to a petition by activist Manoj Mishra of the Yamuna Jiye. The report further adds that water bodies which dotted the area before have been filled up and natural vegetation removed.
The Art of Living Foundation has rebutted the tribunal’s report on the damages to the Yamuna flood plains.
Charging the report as biased, it said that no comprehensive investigation was done on the matter, and the conclusions are based on unscientific facts.
The AOL was represented by a team of experts which included environment and ecosystem experts, and legal counsels. The latest NGT salvo is an attempt to malign the organization. The tribunal claimed that the ground used for the event was a wetland, but Survey of India or other Government documents does not recognize it as such. The team added that agricultural activities were going on in the area where the event was organized and this negates the charge that biodiversity has been destroyed.
The organization claimed that it has stringently adhered to all the guidelines given by the NGT and has not done any construction or used concrete at the site. It used eco-friendly materials like wood, mud, and cloth to build the stage and there is no chance of it being washed to the river bed as alleged by the tribunal.