New Delhi: The country’s top environment court — the National Green Tribunal — came down heavily on spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for shifting the blame for the environmental damage on the Yamuna banks.
“You have no sense of responsibility. Do you think you have the liberty to say whatever you want? It is shocking,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.
The observations came after advocate Sanjay Parikh, appearing for petitioner Manoj Misra, informed the bench about Ravi Shankar’s recent statement blaming the government and the NGT for permitting his NGO to hold the World Culture Festival on the floodplains of river Yamuna.
Parikh told the green bench that the spiritual guru has gone to the extend of levelling allegations against the NGT.
The lawyer said that Sri Sri had posted the statement on the website of the Art of Living, his Facebook page and also addressed the media on the same in a written statement.
The counsel appearing for the AOL foundation, however, contested the findings of the expert panel and said that they have certain objections with regard to the findings of the committee and sought setting aside of the report.
The bench then directed the foundation and other parties in the case to file their response and objection within two weeks and posted the matter for further hearing on May 9.
On April 18, Ravi Shankar had blamed the government and the NGT for permitting AOL to hold the 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”.