The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday rebuked Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for his statement criticising the NGT for its report on the Art of Living Foundation's role in damaging the Yamuna floodplains during the World Culture Festival held in March 2016.
The judge was hearing a plea alleging environmental degradation on the Yamuna floodplains due to the festival, when the counsel for the petitioner read out Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's statement, where he had slammed the NGT, saying that natural justice had been delayed.
"The NGT can never get over the blot it has brought on itself by delaying natural justice to The Art of Living and allowing its own committee to malign the law-abiding organisation in the media. The Art of Living had obtained all the necessary permission including the NGT's.
"The NGT had the application file for two months and they could have stopped it in the beginning. It defies all principles of natural justice that you give permissions and slap a fine for not violating any rules!," Sri Sri had said.
However, after hearing the entire statement, NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar asked, "Who has made this statement?" To this, senior counsel Sanjay Parikh said, "It is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar who has said this".
Justice Kumar responded saying, "You have no sense of responsibility. What gives you the liberty to decide whatever you want? It is shocking."
Meanwhile, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said that the Art of Living (AOL) has not caused damage to the Yamuna.
"Those who say the Art of Living is irresponsible simply don't know us or have gained a sense of humour! The truth is we have caused no damage to the Yamuna. When lies are exposed, it is shocking," he tweeted.
Earlier, the Art of Living foundation had asserted that its legal team will study the NGT report and decide on the future course of action. The NGT appointed Committee of Experts had found the AOL foundation responsible for destroying the entire Yamuna floodplain area during its 'World Culture Festival' event held in March 2016.
An expert committee had told the NGT that a whopping Rs 42.02 crore would be required to restore Yamuna floodplains which was ravaged due to a cultural extravaganza organised by AOL last year.
The expert panel has suggested that there would be two components of rehabilitation plan -- physical and biological, and they would cost Rs 28.73 crore and Rs l3.29 crore respectively, besides additional ancillary expenses.
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.