The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday slammed Art of Living (AOL) over Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s statement blaming the Centre and green panel for Yamuna floodplain damage.
“You have no sense of responsibility. Do you think you have the liberty to say whatever you want?” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.
The environment court went on to say that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's statement of alleged bias in NGT committee report on Yamuna riverbed damage is "shocking".
It has directed the AOL and other parties to file reply and objections to expert panel report Yamuna flood plain damage due to the World Culture Festival, which was organised last year.
On this, Sri Sri said that the AOL has not caused any damage to the Yamuna floodplains.
"The truth is we have caused no damage to the Yamuna. When lies are exposed, it is shocking. Those who say the Art of Living is irresponsible simply don't know us or have gained a sense of humour," he said.
NGT’s reaction came after spiritual figure Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, on Tuesday, blamed the government and the green panel for permitting his NGO Art of Living (AOL) to hold the World Culture Festival on the Yamuna river bed and said they should be held responsible if any environmental damage was caused.
The AOL head said the foundation had obtained all necessary permissions, including from the green panel, and the event could have been stopped in the beginning itself if river Yamuna was so fragile and pure.
"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," Ravi Shankar said in a Facebook post.
Earlier in this month, after the NGT stated that Sri Sri’s AOL was responsible for destroying the Yamuna floodplain during the ‘World Culture Festival’, the foundation today cried foul while terming it to be a ‘conspiracy’.
The foundation also asserted that its legal team will study the NGT report and decide on the future course of action.
"The report has been leaked to the media once again even as we were getting hold of our copy. This was expected from them as their malfide intentions to malign us, has been evident since the beginning," said Kedar Desai, the spokesperson of The Art of Living.
The NGT appointed Committee of Experts earlier found the AOL foundation responsible for destroying the entire Yamuna floodplain area used by the foundation for its event during the 'World Culture Festival' earlier in March 2016.
The expert panel told the NGT that the rehabilitation of Yamuna floodplains destroyed by AOL's 'World Culture Festival' will cost Rs. 42.02 crores and take almost 10 years.
The green panel had last year allowed the AOL to hold the three-day 'World Culture Festival' on the Yamuna flood plains but following the event the former slapped a fine of Rs. 5 crore as interim environment compensation on the foundation for damaging biodiversity of the ecologically sensitive floodplains.