New Delhi, Apr 26 (PTI) A contempt plea was today moved in the National Green Tribunal against spiritual figure Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for holding the Centre and the green panel responsible for the damage caused to Yamuna by allowing his NGO to hold a mega cultural extravaganza.
The plea filed by Yamuna activist Manoj Misra has sought action against Ravi Shankar and said the statement made by the Art of Living (AOL) founder interfered with free and fair dispensation of justice.
The matter is listed for hearing tomorrow before a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar.
Delhi Development Authority counsel Kush Sharma told PTI that they have received a copy of the petition and would address the tribunal on the issue.
In the statement published on AOL’s website, Ravi Shankar had blamed the government and the NGT for permitting AOL and said his foundation had obtained all necessary permissions, including from the green panel, and the event could have been stopped in the beginning itself if the river was so “fragile and pure”.
In the plea filed through advocates Ritwick Dutta and Rahul Choudhary, Misra said the AOL head was “in the habit” of making statements to “denigrate the dignity and status of this tribunal, which was an interference in fair dispensation of justice”, that is the bedrock of the rule of law.
“When the above matter came up for hearing on April 20, after pointing out that the experts have submitted their report on damages, restoration and its quantification, the counsel for the applicant brought the above statement to the attention of this tribunal.
“This tribunal expressed utter shock and displeasure at the above statement to the counsel appearing for respondent no 3 and observed ‘it shows no sense of responsibility’. The tribunal also observed that the applicant could move an application giving details of the above statement. This application is accordingly submitted before this tribunal for its kind consideration,” the plea said.
“Take appropriate action against Ravi Shankar, Chairman of Art of Living Foundation, for making the mentioned statements read with the annexed newspaper reports which on the face of it scandalises/tends to scandalise and interferes/ tends to interfere with the free and fair dispensation of justice by this Tribunal,” it said.
The NGT had earlier termed as “shocking” the charge levelled by Ravi Shankar and the AOL against the government and the green panel for the damage to the Yamuna floodplains, saying they had “no sense of responsibility”.
An expert committee had told the NGT that a whopping Rs 42.02 crore would be required to restore Yamuna floodplains which was ravaged due to the cultural extravaganza last year.
The expert panel had suggested that there would be two components of rehabilitation plan — physical and biological, which would cost Rs 28.73 crore and Rs l3.29 crore respectively, besides additional ancillary expenses.
Ravi Shankar in a Facebook post 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”.
The AOL foundation alleged that the findings of the panel were “biased” and made allegations against Prof C R Babu, a member of the expert panel which had quantified the damage on the floodplains.
“The Art of Living is a responsible and environment- sensitive NGO. We have never caused any damage to the environment but have in fact worked for preserving and reviving it through various environment-related projects over the years,” AOL had said.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.