Presenting a joint report, majorly contributed by Rajaque Rehman, my good friend and colleague. Could not resist sharing details of the Press briefing The Art of Living Foundation held to clarify on and expose the lies that were being peddled by Obstructionist activists Vimlendu Jha and Manoj Mishra backed by Media houses, specifically The Hindustan Times (who seem to have taken it up as their obsessive objective to defame Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Art or Living). Smarting under the resounding success of the World Culture Festival, this motley bunch of town criers who are feeding themselves citing death of Yamuna for year, but do nothing to change the situation, the attacks were incessant. While many links have been unravelled (cannot disclose them at this time, since the game is truly on now) it is pretty obvious that these guys linked up with and acted on behalf of some interests against India and more specifically the Hindus.
What must have come as a shocker is that the Media is truly split into two these days. While some Media houses (not difficult to guess) were conspicuous by their absence, the press briefing was attending by most of them. The evidences based on past Satellite images, the status of the site before and after the World Culture Festival 2016 was telling. This trump card was played well and at the right time (or wrong time for these obstructionists). Well! This must be a real education on the real Yamuna even for these 2 penny activists, who have only tried to milk this issue to line their coffers. While writing this, we still don’t have the Transparency documents on Vimlendu Jha Sweccha Foundation website (Check my earlier blog for the screenshots of 404 error!)
Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living made a high-pitched presentation to media in New Delhi claiming it has scientific evidence that will vindicate its contention of causing no damage to air, water and soil to the site where it hosted the World Culture Festival in March 2016.
All the allegations of damage to floodplains are scientifically mala fide. An analysis of available independent satellite images of the site taken in 2000 and 2016 clearly proves that the site had no water body or wetland,” said a statement from the organization issued after the presentation. It also added that a Survey of India’s map of Delhi dating 1986 confirms the site had not wetland.
All the allegations of drastically tampering with water bodies and wetlands for which the Art of Living is being made to compensate will fall flat and will raise serious questions about the motives behind raking up the case. Or we have to concede the Art of Living of processing an unseen power to tamper with something that doesn’t even exist!
The Art of Living reiterated its contention that all conclusions on the issue so far have been reached without any scientific studies or investigations. “Ecology, environmental science and biodiversity being established disciplines of modern science with clearly defined scientific procedures, we demand that any conclusion on the same must be based on established scientific method(s),” the statement added.
It alleged that decisions with huge implications are being taken on the basis of ballpark calculations and by casually surveying acres of land in less than an hour. It also termed the allegations of destroying the natural flow of the Yamuna as outrageous, saying the only activity over the river was construction of three temporary pontoon bridges which were dismantled immediately after the event.
Responding to the allegations of harming aquatic life around Yamuna, the statement said the Yamuna had already sunk to a pit with toxic levels which has severely affects not only the aquatic life, but also the birds that feed on them. It alleged an attempt to put the blame for years of neglect of the Yamuna on three days of Art of Living event and make it pay for it.
It also denied constructing any ramp or paved road on any portion of the Yamuna floodplains. It cited satellite images that show the existence such road even in 2000.
Saying it is committed to restoration of the floodplains if damages are scientifically established, it expressed apprehension that the compensation amount collected from it could be used up in the guise of restoring damages which are yet to be established.
Alleging that process of natural justice has been severely violated, it demanded an independent panel of experts to assess the alleged damage as per fair and scientific parameters for damage assessment.
With the Art of Living pegging its stance on standing up for the sake of saving the principle of justice, no quick end seems to be in sight. They never expected that this organization will stand up to the bully. We are at a stage where the NGT itself may be facing an existential crisis. While it turns a blind eye to permanent structure that has been existing, it played to some rogue’s gallery who had a vested interest in trying to sabotage this world recognised event.
And as I tweeted! The Game is On! Vimlendu and Manoj’s Yatra begins 🙂