Self-styled spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar's Art of Living (AOL) Foundation tore into the National Green Tribunal's (NGT) report on the Yamuna floodplains in Delhi saying that it was a "scientific fraud." They have said the committee that analysed the damage to the floodplains was biased against them and the report has no quantitative evidence to back it.
The controversy began in March when the World Culture Festival was to be held in the floodplains. After analysing the damage, the committee had suggested that the AOL Foundation pay Rs. 120 crore is compensation. They have paid Rs. 5 crore as environmental compensation.
"I will fight the lies because I have done nothing to deserve this humiliation," Ravishankar told Firstpost. "My volunteers have worked with the Delhi government in its Yamuna cleaning operation. Why would I cause damage to the river and its riverbed?"
Shashi Shekhar, secretary in the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, in a letter dated April 3, 2016 (provided by the AOL Foundation) told the NGT that the amount arrived at was not scientific. It was "tentative and the figure emerged as spontaneous suggestion."
In a statement, the AOL Foundation, has also raised doubts about the credibility of one of the members of the committee. Prof. Brij Gopal was reportedly associated with Manoj Mishra, the chief petitioner against the foundation.
The AOL Foundation said that the area that was called a "Wetland" by the committee was done so to bring it under the ambit of environmental clearance. The area, according to Wetland Atlas of Delhi 1986, was a floodplain and required no environmental clearance.
Read the NGT report on the event here.
The AOL Foundation had permission to host the event at the venue from agencies of state and Central governments. It also adhered to Delhi Pollution Control Committee's policies, the foundation said in a statement.
They also said that the area was already polluted when they took possession and they had cleared the region, beautified and did not release enzymes into the water after the tribunal's directives.