Supreme Court Nod for Pulling Down Sri Sri Trust Building in Kolkata

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The Supreme Court has cleared the decks for demolition of a three-storied building belonging to spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s organisation on the ecologically fragile wetlands in Kolkata.

A bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur declined to entertain the appeal by the Vaidic Dharma Sansthan Trust, part of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's The Art of Living Foundation.

The trust had moved the top court against an order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) which has called for a compliance report from the East Kolkata Wetland Management Authority (EKWMA) and other authorities concerned over demolition of the building.

The NGT, in its order last month, fixed the matter for November 12 to take up the compliance report, making it clear that in case of non-demolition of the building, Wetland Management Authority and the Environment Department of the state will have to pay Rs 50 lakh each in penalty.

The trust had moved the Supreme Court against this order and pleaded for a stay on the NGT's directive.

But the bench remained unimpressed with the arguments made by the trust's lawyer and took note that although the NGT order to raze down the building was issued in December 2017, it was still to be complied with.

"We have heard learned counsel for the appellant. We find no reason to interfere with the impugned orders passed by the National Green Tribunal. The appeals are accordingly dismissed," stated the court in its recent order.

The East Kolkata Wetlands, which is spread across 125 sq km 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.

The issue of the trust contesting the structure against the norms had come to the fore after an NGO, People United for Better Living in Calcutta (PUBLIC) filed a petition before the green tribunal in 2016.