NGT issues contempt notice to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar over comments on Yamuna floodplains

The Art of Living chief had accused the panel of compiling a biased report about the damage his organisation had done to the eco-sensitive zone.

The National Green Tribunal on Thursday issued a contempt notice to the Art of Living foundation’s Sri Sri Ravi Shankar over the controversy surrounding the damaged Yamuna floodplains, PTI reported. The notice was based on a petition against the foundation’s chief, which accused him of blaming the Centre and the green panel for damaging the Yamuna floodplains by allowing his NGO to host an event at the site.

Issued by the panel’s chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, the notice has demanded a reply by May 9, which is the date of the next hearing. The petition was filed by activist Manoj Misra, who said Ravi Shankar had made remarks that “interfered with free and fair dispensation of justice”.

In a statement on his website, the Art of Living founder had derided the government and NGT for allowing his NGO to conduct a massive cultural show on a site that has been described as “fragile and pure”. “They could have stopped the event in the beginning if they wanted to. It defies all principles of natural justice that you give permissions and slap a fine for not violating any rules! This is like giving a challan to someone at a green signal!” a statement on his website said.

The Art of Living had held the mega cultural show in March 2016, to mark 35 years since the organisation was founded. Environmentalists and NGOs had protested against the event being held on the floodplains of the Yamuna, saying this would irreparably damage the ecologically sensitive zone. The NGT had taken note of the matter and fined the organisation Rs 120 crore, but later revised the figure to Rs 5 crore. It had also allowed the Art of Living to go ahead with the celebrations.

After the event, the foundation had appealed against the fine. It had paid Rs 25 lakh of the Rs 5-crore amount and said that the remaining be treated as a bank guarantee that would go towards efforts to create a biodiversity park in the area. On April 22, the green tribunal had pulled up the foundation for not allowing inspections at the festival site, to which Art of Living said that it was still cleaning up the area when an inspection team arrived there on April 15. It later paid the remaining fine amount.

In August 2016, too, an expert panel had informed the NGT that the floodplains had been completely damaged after the event. The foundation had challenged the report and had said it would try to win back the money it had paid as fine.

Support our journalism by paying for Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Some of the most significant innovations in automotive history made their debut in this iconic automobile

The latest version features India's first BS VI norms-compliant engine and a host of 'intelligent' features.

The S-Class, also known as Sonderklasse or special class, represents Mercedes Benz’ top-of-the-line sedan line up. Over the decades, this line of luxury vehicles has brought significant automotive technologies to the mainstream, with several firsts to its credit and has often been called the best car in the world. It’s in the S-Class that the first electronic ESP and ABS anti-lock braking system made their debut in the 20th century.

Twenty first-century driver assistance technologies which predict driver-behaviour and the vehicle’s course in order to take preventive safety measures are also now a staple of the S-Class. In the latest 2018 S-Class, the S 350 d, a 360-degree network of cameras, radars and other sensors communicate with each other for an ‘intelligent’ driving experience.

The new S-Class systems are built on Mercedes Benz’s cutting-edge radar-based driving assistance features, and also make use of map and navigation data to calculate driving behaviour. In cities and on other crowded roads, the Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC helps maintain the distance between car and the vehicle in front during speeds of up to 210 kmph. In the same speed range, Active Steering Assist helps the driver stay in the centre of the lane on stretches of straight road and on slight bends. Blind Spot Assist, meanwhile, makes up for human limitations by indicating vehicles present in the blind spot during a lane change. The new S-Class also communicates with other cars equipped with the Car-to-X communication system about dicey road conditions and low visibility due to fog, rain, accidents etc. en route.

The new S-Class can even automatically engage the emergency system when the driver is unable to raise an alarm. Active Emergency Stop Assist brings the car to a stop if it detects sustained periods of inactivity from the driver when Active Steering Assist is switched on. If the driver doesn’t respond to repeated visual and audible prompts, it automatically activates the emergency call system and unlocks the car to provide access to first responders.

The new Mercedes-Benz S 350 d in India features another notable innovation – the country’s first BS VI norms-compliant car engine, in accordance with government regulations to control vehicular pollution. Debuting two years before the BS VI deadline of 2020, the S 350 d engine also remains compatible with the current BS IV fuels.

The S 350 d is an intelligent car made in India, for Indian roads - in the Mercedes Benz S-Class tradition. See the video below to know what drives the S-Class series by Mercedes Benz.

To know more about the 2018 S-Class, click here.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Mercedes Benz and not by the Scroll editorial team.