Art of Living Seeks Unbiased Panel To Examine Charges


New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Monday issued notice to petitioners – environmentalist Manoj Misra, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and other respondents – on a plea filed by The Art of Living Foundation, seeking reconstitution of principal expert committee to examine the alleged impact of the World Culture Festival on the Yamuna floodplains.

The foundation filed an application to reconstitute an independent and an unbiased expert committee to examine the allegations. The foundation alleged, “The committee has pre-judged the issue and are under self-imposed pressure to justify that figure, creating a bias for itself.”

“The Art of Living objects to the existing committee comprising Brij Gopal, Prof. Gosain, C.R. Babu and headed by Sashi Shekhar, who arrived at an arbitrary figure of Rs. 120 crore based on a very brief ‘visual’ assessment without following a scientific process,” the foundation said in a statement.

The court, which heard the preliminary arguments to change the committee, issued notice to Mishra, the other petitioners as well as the respondents. The court will tomorrow consider the request for another independent body to simultaneously assess the site pending the final disposal of the application.

On March 9, the NGT had refused to prohibit the World Culture Festival on the bank of Yamuna, but slapped a fine of Rs. 5 crore on the foundation for damaging biodiversity of the ecologically sensitive Yamuna floodplains. On May10, the foundation had issued a clarification over a NGT notice to its founder Ravi Shankar for his alleged remarks against the green panel, saying the allegations against the spiritual leader were ‘completely false’ and based merely on ‘newspaper reports’.

The NGT issued a notice to Ravi Shankar for his alleged remarks that the fine imposed by the green panel for organising an event on banks f river Yamuna was politically motivated.

“At the NGT proceedings, it was specifically pointed out by The Art of Living lawyers that applications filed by Anand Arya and Misra were based merely on news paper reports and that the tribunal ought not to entertain the same,” the Art of Living statement said.

“It was also clarified by The Art of Living that the allegations about Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at the NGT was misconceived since the video of the speech was available with Art Of Living and demonstrate that the allegation was completely false,” it added. The Art of Living further said that it would respond to NGT’s notice and warned the complainant of strict action if allegations are found without credible basis.

“Court in fact warned Misra that if he is not able to prove his allegation, he will be penalised,” the statement added. The NGT in a notice to Ravishankar had asked why should not contempt of court proceedings be initiated against him and has directed him to file a reply to it latest by May 25.