विश्व सांस्कृतिक सम्मलेन : श्री श्री रविशंकर क्यों ठीक कह रहे हैं : राष्ट्र हित मैं नॅशनल ग्रीन ट्रिब्यूनल का न्यायलय का दर्ज़ा हटाना आवश्यक है .
पिछले वर्ष श्री श्री रवि शंकर ने यमुना तट पर एक अभूतपूर्व विश्व सांस्कृतिक सम्मलेन का आयोजन किया था जिसमें विश्व के — राष्ट्रों के सांस्कृतिक दस्तों ने भाग लिया था . इस उत्कृष्ट प्रदर्शन ने भारत की विश्व मैं पहचान बनायी और इसे संयुक्त राष्ट्र संघ की मान्यता मिलनी चाहिए . इस तरह का अंतर्राष्ट्रीय सांस्कृतिक समारोह विश्व मैं कहीं नहीं आयोजित होता .कई देशों मे छोटे छोटे सम्मलेन ब्राज़ील का कार्निवल विश्व भर मैं प्रसिदध है . इसी तरह एक छोटे शहर दावोस का अर्थशास्त्र का सम्मलेन विश्व भर मैं पह्चान बना चुका है .श्री श्री का यह प्रयास भारत की अन्य पहचान के लिए अत्यंत आवश्यक है जिससे भारत को संपेरों व् शेरों का देश समझना बंद हो . बॉलीवुड की तरह यह भारत की सॉफ्ट पॉवर मैं वृद्धि कर सकता है .
हिमालय से इलाहबाद तक यमुना इतनी बड़ी नदी है की एक छोटे हिस्से पर कोई मेला क्या बिगाड़ेगा . हमारे देश मैं तो कुम्भ मेले की तरह नदियों पर अनेकों मेले सदियों से लगते रहे हें और यह हमारी संस्कृति का अभिन्न अंग हैं . क्या कल कोई कोर्ट कुम्भ मेले पर रोक लगा सकता है ? राष्ट्र्रीय संस्कृति को किसी साधारण न्यायलय को बदलने का अधिकार नहीं होना चाहिए बल्कि सुप्रीम कोर्ट की संविधान बेंच की तरह सर्वोच्च न्यायलय को ही अधिकार होना चाहिए . तमिल नाडू के जलिकुट्टू खेल के विवाद ने ने बता दिया है की पुरातन सांस्कृतिक मामलों मैं नयायालयों को संभाल कर दखला देना चाहिए .इसके अलावा भी विकास की कई मुद्दों पर नॅशनल ग्रीन ट्रिब्यूनल को रोक लगाने का अधिकार नहीं होना चाहिए . डीजल कारों पर रोक का आदेश बहुत दुर्भाग्य पूर्ण था . मारुती व् अनेकों कंपनियों मैं भारत मैं डीजल इंजिन बनाने के कारखानों मैं भारी निवेश किया था . पर्यावरण व् विकास मैं समन्वय बिठाने की आवश्यकता है .सरकार का यह दायित्व है की इस निवेश को बर्बाद नहीं होने दिया जाय अन्यथा भारत की साख और भारत मैं विदेशी निवेश को धक्का लगेगा . कानून को बदलने की आवश्यकता है . राष्ट्रीय हित को व्यापक परिपेक्ष मैं देखने की आवश्यकता अहि. इसे मात्र पर्यावरण के चश्मे से नहीं देखा जा सकता .ग्रीन ट्रिब्यूनल को महिला आयोग की तरह सिर्फ निर्देश देने का अधिकार होना चाहिए और सरकार को उच्च स्तर पर राष्ट्र हित मैं उसे खारिज करने का अधिकार होना चाहिए .
सरकार को इस विषय मैं संविधान मैं संशोधन कर ग्रीन ट्रिब्यूनल को सिर्फ निर्देश संहिता बनाने का अधिकार तक सीमित कर देना चाहिए जिसे सरकार ही उच्च स्तर पर ठुकरा सके .यदि सरकार के विरुद्ध चाहे तो ट्रिब्यूनल चाहे तो उसे सर्वोच् न्यायलय मैं अपील का अधिकार होना चाहिए .
श्री श्री रविशंकर का यमुना तट पर सांस्कृतिक सम्मलेन एक राष्ट्रीय उपलब्धि मान कर पुनः आयोजित होना चाहिए .
निम्न दो लेख सूचनार्थ दिए जा रहे हैं .
Damage to Yamuna floodplains: NGT slams AoL head Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for his ‘shocking’ blame-game
The National Green Tribunal on Thursday slammed the Art of Living over its founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar blaming the Centre and the green panel for damage to the Yamuna floodplains, terming it as “shocking”. “You have no sense of responsibility. Who gave you liberty to speak whatever you want to. It is shocking ,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.
A day after spiritual figure and founder of Art of Living foundation Sri Sri Ravi Shankar blamed the government and the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for permitting his NGO to hold the World Culture Festival on the Yamuna river bed, NGT slammed him and said that the founder’s statement was shocking. The tribunal has directed AOL and other parties to file their reply and objections to expert panel report on Yamuna floodplain damage due to the AOL cultural extravaganza — World Culture Festival.
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.
Ravi Shankar had said that the NGT and the Centre 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.
Ravi Shankar accused the NGT of defying all principles of natural justice and said “a historic programme deserving of applause and appreciation is unjustly projected as a crime”.
“World over, cultural programmes are held on riverbanks. The whole idea was to bring awareness to save the river. The Art of Living that has rejuvenated 27 rivers, planted 71 million trees, revived several ponds is being projected as destroying a dead river. What a joke,” he said.
“The AOL 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,” AOL founder read.
In a statement AOL spokesperson Soumya Ghosh said, “The NGT can never get over the blot it has bought on itself by delaying natural justice to AOL and allowing its own committee to malign the law abiding organisation in the press.” 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.
World-Culture-Festival_1Tarique_380The 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 13.29 crore respectively, besides additional ancillary expenses.
On 12 April, an expert committee told the NGT that whopping Rs 42.02 crore would be required to restore Yamuna floodplains which was ravaged due to the cultural extravaganza. The expert panel had suggested that there would be two components of rehabilitation plan — physical and biological, and they would cost Rs 28.73 crore and Rs 13.29 crore respectively, besides additional ancillary expenses.
The AOL had then termed the findings of the panel as “biased” and alleged that expert committee’s report has been leaked to the media without serving them a copy. “The Art of Living is a responsible and environment-sensitive NGO. We have never caused any damage to the environment but have in fact worked for preserving and reviving it through various environment-related projects over the years. Our legal team will study the report and decide on the appropriate future course of action,” AOL said in a release.
The NGT-appointed panel elaborated the timeline and the mechanism to be undertaken to ensure revival of the riverbed. The tribunal had constituted the committee last year which was headed by Shashi Shekhar, Secretary of the Ministry of Water Resources, and senior scientists and experts from National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, IIT-Delhi and other agencies to inspect the site of the World Culture Festival.
The seven-member panel had said that the physical component should be taken up immediately and completed in two years’ time, while the biological aspect should be initiated simultaneously which would take 10 years. Besides the two components, the rehabilitation of the floodplain would also require funds to meet the expenses of a team of experts for next 10 years along with the cost of transportation of material outside the riverbed, the committee said.
These estimates are approximate and need to be strengthened through commissioning of Detailed Project Report, it said. Implementation of the action plan requires extensive monitoring for which the NGT may consider creating an appropriate body/team of experts, the panel said in its 31-page report. In it recommendations to the NGT, the expert committee said that major restoration work has to be carried out to compensate for the damage to Yamuna floodplains.
Art of Living chief Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
Art of Living chief Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
Advocate Kush Sharma, who represented the Delhi Development Authority, refused to comment on the findings in the report and said they were going through the contents. The green body had last year allowed AOL to hold three-day World Culture Festival on the Yamuna floodplains while expressing its helplessness in banning the event because of “fait accompli”.
It, however, had imposed Rs 5 crore as interim environment compensation on the foundation for the event’s impact on the environment after Yamuna activist Manoj Mishra alleged that AOL was violating NGT orders. Initially, a four member-committee had recommended that AOL Foundation should pay Rs 100-120 crore as restoration cost for “extensive and severe damage” to the floodplains of Yamuna river.
Later, a seven-member expert committee had told NGT that the extravaganza organised on Yamuna riverbed has “completely destroyed” the riverbed. The committee had observed that entire floodplain area used for the main event site between DND flyover and the Barapulla drain (on the right bank of river Yamuna) has been completely destroyed, not simply damaged. “The ground is now totally levelled, compacted and hardened and is totally devoid of water bodies or depressions and almost completely devoid of any vegetation.
“The area where the grand stage was erected (and the area immediately behind it) is heavily consolidated — most likely with a different kind of external material used to level the ground and compress it. Huge amount of earth and debris have been dumped to construct the ramps for access from the DND flyover and from the two pontoon bridges across the Barapulla drain,” the expert committee had said.
The earlier committee, in its 47-page report, has said that due to the three-day event, the floodplain has lost “almost all its natural vegetation” like trees, shrubs, tall grasses, aquatic vegetation including water hyacinth which provides habitat to large number of animals, insects and mud-dwelling organisms.
With inputs from agencies
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Replies :
13:54 Those who say AOL irresponsible have sense of humour: Sri Sri on NGT rebuke: Barely an hour after the National Green Tribunal slammed Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and his Art of Living foundation, the spiritual leader responded saying AOL has done no wrong.
“The truth is we have caused no damage to the Yamuna. When lies are exposed, it is shocking,” news agency ANI quoted Ravi Shankar as saying.
“Those who say the Art of Living is irresponsible simply don’t know us or have gained a sense of humour,” Ravi Shankar further added.
Earlier today, NGT, the highest environmental court in the country — 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.
‘World Culture Festival did not damage Yamuna floodplain’: NEERI expert gives Art of Living clean chit
The Art of Living’s gigantic event at the Yamuna floodplain has not damaged the river or the floodplains in any tangible way, let alone in the long term. This statement comes from Dr Rakesh Kumar, environmental scientist, and head of the Mumbai office of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute.
Dr Kumar’s statement assumes great significance as the National Green Tribunal has criticised the World Culture Festival of the Art of Living (AoL) Foundation in its orders largely on the basis of expert opinion. The order had claimed that the floodplains and the natural flow of the river have been adversely affected. In fact, Jairam Ramesh had been quoted in The Indian Express as speculating if some ‘higher-ups’ had ‘made phone calls to the NGT’ to ensure that the World Culture Festival (WCF) went ahead.
Nevertheless, Dr Kumar had surveyed the WCF, organised by the AoL in Delhi to assess the environmental situation on the ground. He says he had had a good look at the event from both sides of the Yamuna and though he did not tour the entire area used for the WCF, he could safely say that it is unlikely that the floodplains were going to be affected in any way by the event.
Coming as it does in the middle of a controversy over the alleged environmental damage caused by the AoL on the Yamuna floodplains, Dr Kumar’s statements stand out.
Far from criticising the event, Dr Kumar, who is also a respected name in environmental engineering and water-related issues, says, “It’s required to hold more non-polluting events to bring attention to the Yamuna and help people connect with the river banks”, which is otherwise being condemned to being an illegal squatters’ paradise full of filth and muck.
Dr Kumar elaborates on his many reasons for coming back without a murmur against the organisers. At the outset, he clarifies that he is not an AoL follower and his only interest in the event was professional. “On the second day of the three-day festival (12 March), I moved around the area, crossed the pontoon bridge and came to the other side of the river. So I got a reasonable decent overall glimpse of everything,” he says.
“There were around 10 to 15 gates, which kept the flow of people comfortable. The entire layout was very well mapped. There were more than adequate toilets (650 chemical toilets to dissolve the waste and leave no residue on the ground), plenty of litter bins, and the participants were very disciplined. This was unlike many other events that I have seen.“
As for the pontoon bridges, he says those were necessary in case of the need of sudden evacuation. “I didn’t see any damage to the river due to the pontoon bridge,” he says. In any case, pontoon bridges are very common in the north. On the issue of the use of the army, the AoL has already said the army was requisitioned by the Delhi government to ensure safety of the participants.
On the claim made by some environmentalists that the compaction of the ground would destroy the floodplains, Dr Kumar explains the process. “Compaction of the ground is done to keep it stable. It is not critical to the environment unless it’s done for, say, water tanks holding lakhs of litres or a reservoir. Any real compaction would require two of three layers of material, which is pressured into place by road rollers. However, at the WCF, I did not see any construction-related compaction.”
In fact, he says, there were no semi-permanent structures anywhere. “Everything built was temporary and that could be easily dismantled,” he says. “I visited the venue on the second day in a police vehicle and even though it was an SUV, the tyres sank in the mud due to the rain. There was no compaction of the kind that could have a lasting effect. They would have perhaps laid some rubble where vehicular movement was anticipated but even at those places, the ground was very muddy beyond a point.”
Dr Kumar’s contentions bear out what AoL has maintained all along — that they have used eco-friendly materials like wood, mud and cloth. For instance, the ramp to the stage was made of mud, as was the pathway. No cement or concrete was used in any form. Not a single tree was cut. The wetland was covered with construction debris and weeds; they remained untouched except that the debris and weeds were removed.
The most intriguing part of the WCF architecture was its seven-acre dais. It was resting on itself; it had no foundation whatsoever dug in the river or the riverbed. Nothing was embedded in the river, a fact that led to concern among some sections of the media that the stage would cave under the weight of thousands of performing artists and attendees. Built entirely above the ground, it was built of scaffolding material, with a shuttering plate beneath each scaffolding and wooden boards on top. The stage held through for the three days.
Because no digging was done underground, Dr Kumar says, the dais too has been environment-safe. He disagrees that the venue was a site for sore eyes the day after the event as alleged in some sections of the media. When Dr Kumar visited the venue on 14 March, he found “volunteers were doing a wonderful job” of cleaning up the site.
Although he is uninterested in stepping into the minefield of a controversy that the event has been rigged up to become, he maintains that on the basis of whatever he has seen — which is pretty much everything — no real damage has been done to the river of the floodplains in any way.
Insisting that it is important to keep the spotlight on the Yamuna, he cites the example of Mithi river in Mumbai. “The reason Mithi could not really be salvaged is because everyone had made it their backyard. Now that there are bridges connecting the river, you can see what people are doing to it. This exposure is important.” It’s not as if the Yamuna is being taken care of otherwise – quite the opposite in fact, he says. “The banks of Yamuna are perpetually being abused all through the year by many…with garbage, illegal activities, gambling, unauthorised hutments, etc.”
ncidentally, the AoL Foundation had taken up the task of cleaning the Yamuna in 2010 in a campaign they called ‘Meri Dilli, Meri Yamuna’. It had cleared 512 tonnes of garbage and toxic debris. One of the key reasons AOL could mount such a gigantic event on the Yamuna floodplains was its confidence derived from having competently revived 17 rivers in India. Two years ago, the Karnataka High Court had acknowledged its work in river rejuvenation as a role model for the rest of the state.
Last year, when AOL decided to host the WCF near the Yamuna, the land was far from a green paradise that many environmentalists have been projecting it to be. More than 20 acres of the site was filled with debris from Delhi’s construction sites.
Clearing and cleaning a land that is filled with rotting garbage and debris was not their only challenge. The next one came from the river — how to get rid of the foul stench from the Yamuna. Toxic waste was being dumped in the river for years through the drains that made it impossible for anyone to stand on the river bank for two minutes.
The organisers came up with a novel idea of releasing enzymes made from raw kitchen waste from thousands of households. After six months, the number of pollutants in the water had decreased; it had got back its limpidness to a reasonable extent.
At the heart of the problem is perhaps the ease with which a gigantic event captures public and media imagination, and the fact that the Yamuna floodplain finds no mention in the land use plan of a city that is starved of space.