What does one do, when they go out of circulation and unnoticed for a long time? Piggy back on to something/someone popular – Exactly what NGT seem to be trying to implement to perfection these days. After their unwarranted and vengeful attempt to defame and derail World Culture Festival, during which they were exposed by their own Expert Panel with Observations that cannot even be categorised as Amateurish, the recent “Selective” targeting of the Art of Living’s Temple of Knowledge by the EKW Management Authority (EKWMA) comes in handy for them. Who better to piggy back than world renowned Spiritual Master & Guru of Joy Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji, the founder of Art of Living.
Since I am in the know about some facts and background of this project, thought this should be recorded here. Here we go…
First up, every single legal norms warranted by all concerned regulatory authorities has been complied with by the Vaidic Dharma Sansthan Trust of the Art of Living in respect of the Temple of Knowledge Project
On Oct 25, 2017, Kolkata NGT, ordered the demolition of the Temple of Knowledge (ToK) – the structure owned by the Vaidic Dharma Sansthan (VDS) Trust by relying upon an order passed by the East Kolkata Wetlands Authority on the previous day i.e 24 October 2017, UNILATERALLY without even serving the same to VDS for it to deal with it legally. VDS has come to know of the said order of EKWMA through the Media. Basic premise and process of Natural justice is to afford an opportunity to all parties or atleast keep affected parties informed. Especially since VDS has all records and FACTS to prove that the order of EKWMA’s order is legally Void and Erroneous – which is well known to EKWMA and the NGT – (Was it the reason to go ahead and issue the order almost surreptitiously?)
It is pertinent to note here that the plot of the Trust has been categorised under the schedule to the East Kolkata Wetlands (Conservation and Preservation) Act 2006, as one in which Rural and Urban Settlement was allowed. The structure of the Trust was therefore perfectly legal and valid.
A cursory drive past would reveal existence of more than a thousand private and commercial projects, schools, colleges in the wetland area. Why is it that a Not for Profit Charitable ToK, VDS & Art of Living being singled out – Vendetta?
Let it be known that when the construction of the ‘Temple for Knowledge’ began, a group of volunteers started it based on the sanction plan given to VDS by the donor. The East Kolkata Wetlands Management Authority was not even functional then. VDS had obtained all required permissions from regulatory departments.
It is in this context that Selectively ToK building which is for the public good been ordered to be razed down. I hope VDS trust won’t let itself to be bullied by these kind of over-reach and use of discretionary powers and move higher court against this arbitrary order of EKWMA and NGT.
Some pictures of permanent structures existing in the same area where the Trust has been singled out.
NOTE: This rebuttal could have well been provided to the Media who had published the report, but it would be sending more hits to their portal which I don’t wish to do. A responsible media would have first sought Art of Living/VDS Trust’s reaction before they went to town with a one sided reportage.
Additional Reading: This is by no means an attempt to say Two wrongs don’t make a right. But to put things in perspective – Witch hunting (for reasons that is anyone’s guess) a legally cleared and permitted Not-For-Profit Organisation while commercial activities goes unchecked.
- In a meeting on July 14, the first of the reconstituted authority chaired by Chatterjee, the newly constituted EKWMA committee (this committee was created by the Government just to bull doze decisions on the Authority) made a series of decisions which, environmentalists allege, have formalised encroachment within the wetlands. This sitting cleared several Government Project (In-Principle approvals).A five kilometre flyover which will see 146 piers constructed within eight water bodies in the core of the Ramsar site is not a danger? Also note this has come post establishment of the authority unlike ToK which was much before. Click on the picture below for details.
- A 5 km long flyover over the wetland – WB Government cared two hoots to the concerns raised.
- Clearance for dumping of City”s Solid waste (yes! You read it right) – Though this has been resisted, Minister Chatterjee has been very vocal with this demand.
- Two roads that would definitely damage and adverserly affect the Wetlands.
- This committee has allowed the Meghnath Saha Institute of Technology to procure land outside the wetland area and turn it into a water body (this was expressly banned by the authority and now overturned by this Committee)
- As evident from the pictures above, huge skyscrapers are also being permitted brazenly and the Authority nor the NGT seem to be bothered.
- There are reports that there is rampant and illegal sale of Wetlands (and on August 15th 2017, there was even violence between two parties including firing due to differences in sharing the spoils)