NGT – Not Good Try Again

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.

View of Wetlands and Structures on it
Structures that has been spared
A view from the Under Construction ToK
Temple of Knowledge Building

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.

  1. 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.

    Wastewater is released into the Kolkata wetlands at the Bantala Lock Gate
  2. A 5 km long flyover over the wetland – WB Government cared two hoots to the concerns raised.
  3. 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.
  4. Two roads that would definitely damage and adverserly affect the Wetlands.
  5. 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)
  6. As evident from the pictures above, huge skyscrapers are also being permitted brazenly and the Authority nor the NGT seem to be bothered.
  7. 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)


Phas gaye re NGT – #TruthWillPrevail

Please bear and read through this Maxi post (it has a lot of links for supplementary reading)

Each time I resolve not to react to anything that appears against the Art of Living hosted, now well known, World Culture Festival held on the banks of River Yamuna (or whatever was left of it), a motley bunch who called themselves “Committee of Experts” (click on the link to read about the so called experts) don’t let me do it at all.

The committee chaired by Water Resources Secretary Shashi Shekhar & assisted by Prof AK Gosain of IIT-Delhi, Prof CR Babu and Prof Brij Gopal, in its report submitted to the green panel on 21 February 2016, had stated (Quoting relevant part from the report)

The area has been cleared of all natural vegetation and the event would leave a “permanent footprint” on the floodplains of the Yamuna.

The site has been cleared of all natural vegetation and consolidated with machinery. It appears that the site has been raised with the help of JCBs (mechanical excavators). A gigantic stage made of steel rods is under preparation. A huge amount of debris and construction waste has been dumped into the Yamuna main channel.

It would require at least Rs 120 crore for restoration of the Yamuna flood plains and there is a irreversible damage, leaving a “permanent footprinton the floodplains of the Yamuna. It’s destruction and not damage of the floodplains, because there’s nothing left on the floodplains to revive. The wetland has been compacted that has killed organisms, vegetation, biodiversity and the ecological system. It takes hundreds of years and even more for a biodiversity to develop, and one can’t revive in a few years period. So, it’s total destruction

(Mark those important phrases in red – that formed part of their report on which basis the entire case is premised – I will revisit this later in this piece)

And backed by the every obliging Foreign controlled Paid Media and Liberals (PALs) – you can find some information on my two part pieces here (Part 1 and Part 2). This gives you the reason why PALs, as I refer to them in the pieces, launched an incessant attack on the founder of Art of Living, Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji and Art of Living – whether they perform their morning ablutions or not, multiple attacks a day on this world recognized event was their prescription.

And Lo!!! Something suddenly erupts to disturb the cosy comfort activists were reposing in. An usually wary and not so outspoken Water Resource Secretary and Chairman of the Expert Committee Mr Shashi Shekar blurted in an unguarded moment that Rs 120 crore fine was not based on any scientific assessment. In his letter to NGT, he said (quoting from it),

The estimate that Rs 120 crore would be needed to repair the likely damage as “tentative” and a “spontaneous suggestion”, which got elevated as a “recommendation” because of an “inadvertent mistake. This inadvertent mistake was largely due to the fact that I was running high fever and could not see the entire report prepared by the experts,”

Oh yes! Mr Shashi Shekhar wrote this letter to the NGT on March 3, eight days before the AOL event got under way. But even during the hearings on the even and the day preceding it, the Tribunal and the activists who had made it their mission to sabotage this Event never refered to this letter from no less than Chairman of the Expert Committee (Manoj Misra, Vimlendu et al cannot claim they did not know about it – but they did throw a gauntlet at me at the gates of NGT office – Swechha guy’s words “You can defeat us in court but not the fury of the nature” bandying the weather forecast. It is a different matter that he had a carton of Gelusil when nature held back just for the event to get to a magnificent start and also witness to the now famous WCF Rainbow – click this link to see WCF Rainbow & a Post Event report). Coming back to the point, a totally unscientific, tentative spontaneous suggestion got elevated as a recommendation (yes it is the language of the Expert supposedly handling some legally critical issue)

I even presented, with my friend Rajaque Rehman a far more Scientific, evidence based report “Pictures & Facts Don’t Lie – #WCF2016” which had As-is pictures, photographs of spectral records, Pre and post Event Pictures, Temporal Satellite imageries. But then we were just factual not “experts”

Partial list of work done by Art of Living for Environment protection is chronicled in this Two part article Part 1 that includes work done for Yamuna, yes yes you heard it right – Yamuna maayi was also taken care by AOL much before the event in 2010. And then Part 2 where I chronicle various river rejuvenation and enviroment related work that Art of Living has done. As clear these form far more than whatever these activists, experts and NGT put together has done for the environment and rivers. By the way! I have just listed very few of them and those done in India alone.

Now that the premise is set, let us come back to the present. A so called Expert and so called report from them was leaked to the public (press – obviously first broken on pliable Hindustan Times – known hitjob contractor against AOL and Sri Sri). Read this part of the report

The seven-member committee, headed by the water resources ministry secretary Mr Shashi Shekhar, said in the report released on Wednesday that the ecological rehabilitation of the Yamuna’s floodplains will cost Rs.13.29 crore and take almost 10 years.

Compare the Red colored block words of what NGT experts had asked for. Permanent Damage & Total destruction now becomes ecological rehabilitation would take almost 10 years and Rs 120 Crores becomes Rs 13.29 Crores. Coming from such a learned bunch of experts 😛 a poor stupid me is left wondering why we Tax Payers even have these kind of rehabilitation forum, for retired Judges and Professors and Good Boys of the establishment, called NGT and Expert committee. The report is a litany of comical errors. Chairman and another Expert doesn’t sign the report!!!

A few questions

  1. Why this selective leak of Expert Report?
    • What were the Compulsions: Desire for Media Glare (unlikely) or Pressure from a Particular Foreign funded NGO to fix AOL?
  2. Why did Chairman of the Committee and another Expert not sign the document?
  3. How did the Rs 120 Crore suddenly drop to Rs 13.29 Crores + recurring cost for 10 years)
  4. How did Permanent damage, recoup itself to getting rehabiliated within 10 years?

Here is the Press Release from the Art of Living:

Even more caustic and harsh was Water Minister, Government of Delhi Mr Kapil Mishra’s reaction to the Expert committee report. He went to the extent of mocking them saying Dolphins were swimming in Yamuna before WCF and also sought Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to repeat this festival again and again.

Here is the DNA report shared in the tweet from Art of Living which has English version of this reaction. That was a slap bit too hard. Salutes Sir. I have ideological differences with you, but tipping my hat for being on the side of Truth.

Does whatever happened remind you of the scene from a 2010 movie “Phas Gaye re Obama” Rings a Bell? NGT bargaining is something like this. I sincerely hope and pray that Art of Living stands up to this Obstructionist bully called National Green Tribunal, not surprisingly a creation of the Indian National Congres & machiavellian designs

|Jai Gurudev|

|Jai Yamuna Mayi|

Satyameva Jayate (TruthWillTriumph)