Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's AOL foundation rejects NGT panel report

Asmita Sarkar
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Reuters

The Art of Living Foundation has called a report by an expert panel of the NGT on the state of the Yamuna floodplains, where the 'World Culture Festival' was held in March 2016, as "completely flawed, unscientific and biased."    

The AOL Foundation and the NGT have been sea-sawing over the Yamuna floodplains. The foundation was levied a Rs 5 crore environmental compensation, which they paid, but the matter is ongoing. A preliminary report by an expert panel had suggested compensation to the tune of Rs 120 crore.  

The report was not signed by the Expert Committee Chairperson, Shri Shashi Shekhar, the AOL Foundation told the International Business Times, India. The committee member professor Brij Gopal had also not signed the report, the spokesperson said. 

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"We have placed significant material on record before the NGT which clearly shows that the committee is biased. Our application in this regard has not yet been heard. We do not trust this committee. It has disqualified itself by its blatantly biased conduct," the spokesperson told IBT India. 

AOL, which was founded by self-styled guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, has been pulled up by the green court since before the three-day global cultural festival. An NGT panel had previously assessed the damage to the floodplains in the area and said in 2016 that it faces permanent damage and Rs 120 crore would be required to restore it. 

AOL responded saying, "From randomly pronouncing damages for Rs 120 crore, they have come down to Rs 13 crores; from permanent damage they are now saying 10 years. From damage to wetlands they are now saying damage to floodplains. Their inconsistencies expose their lies."

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"The Expert Committee Chairperson, Shri Shashi Shekhar, who had earlier blown the whistle before the NGT that Rs 120 crores is unscientific, has not signed this report. Shri Brij Gopal too has not signed the report. Is it because they too agree that the Committee is unscientific and biased ? How can the committee submit a report without the consent of its chairman? And why has the biased report not explained this breach of mandatory protocol?

The report has no scientific basis and is clearly biased. There is no evidence at all to justify their claims. We will fight for truth to triumph," AOL said. 

The three-day event was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and thousands of other people after weeks-long controversy over whether it will be conducted or scrapped. The court had then said that the matter was "fait accompli" and allowed the event to go forward. 

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On Thursday, Delhi Water resources Minister Kapil Mishra rejected the findings of the panel and invited Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to conduct the cultural extravaganza again at the same location, but "only on the banks." 

art of living foundation, yamuna floodplains

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