November 21, 2018

National Green Tribunal and Its Case Hollow

Jagdish Keshav

 

Are you aware that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has no scientific data to support its claim and the allegation that Art of Living violated certain codes of conduct and violated, transgressed and harmed the Yamuna Flood Plains? Do you know that Art of Living foundation after conducting the World Cultural Festival at the venue left this in a better, more eco-friendly and a safer place and that accusations of causing sever damages indicate bias based on political factors by certain vested interests?

Yes you read it right. Delhi police acknowledged this and openly gave a statement about the area of WCF becoming a safer place after the clean up, post WCF. According to the police, the venue site used to be a hangout for criminal elements that troubled the local residents endlessly. During and after the mega event, the area got cleaned up thanks to the efforts of the volunteers from Art of Living and the unruly elements driven out. And Art of Living did not cause any damage to the area of the event.  And the foundation has in its possession, documents including dated Google Earth maps, Satellite data, Survey of India maps etc to prove their point from both before and after the mega event. And once again, NGT does not possess any scientific evidence to back their accusations of Art of Living damaging the Yamuna River Flood Plains.

It also must be mentioned here that it is a universal law that events cannot be allowed on Wetlands but certainly on Flood Plains. And Yamuna River Flood Plains stands for just that, a Flood Plain.

The use of Enzymes for Bioremediation

There is a huge drainage area called Barapulla Drain located near this area. The proximity of this drain to the venue became a huge hindrance to the organizers of this event. The stench was overpowering. This was prior to hosting the festival. This certainly was a health and safety hazard for the organizers and the expected public at the event.

After obtaining all the necessary permissions and licenses from different govt departments and authorities to conduct the mega-event, the World Cultural Festival, Art of Living proceeded to use a procedure called Bioremediation to clean the drain. This is a proven scientific process used mostly by Waste Management Companies worldwide. Microorganisms are used in this procedure that break up hazardous materials into non-toxic and partly-toxic materials that are easier to dispose off. The reason for Art of Living to take this upon itself was that a very large number including many foreign dignitaries were expected to attend the WCF and a local contractor who was supposed to get the drain cleaned, failed even to show up for the contractual work. The stench problem was taken care of.

But immediately came the accusation by the vested interests that Art of Living is harming the water body by reckless use of enzymes by letting them into the Yamuna River. This has been proven otherwise by records that are available for public scrutiny.

The accusers

On the official level, there are two main ones in this case and they are Mr. Swatantra Kumar and Mr. C.R. Babu of NGT. A few words about both of them:

Mr. Swatantra Kumar is an ex-judge of the Supreme Court of India. Now he is the chairman of National Green Tribunal, a body that overlooks environmental issues concerning India. He spearheaded the team that accused Art of Living of misconduct and causing ‘severe’ damage to Yamuna River Flood Plains. Of course, there is no scientific data available to back him up with these allegations.  Mr. Shashi Shekhar a senior bureaucrat with the Govt of India and a senior member of the NGT panel has acknowledged this fact. In fact this gentleman has issued a press statement in this regard.

The other person is Mr. C.R Babu, a retired Botany professor from the Delhi University. He is another main member of the panel from NGT, which unilaterally accused Art of Living of something it is not guilty of.

Now it has come to light that this Mr. Babu who is not an environmentalist as per official records is an accused in a major scam concerning siphoning over Rs. 40 crore from Delhi University. Here are a few facts that throw light on this gentleman.

Prof C.R. Babu retired in 2005 from Delhi University at the superannuated age of 65. During his service period he had been designated as the Director of a small centre named CEMDE (Centre for Environmental Management of Degraded Ecosystems) in 1990, Pro Vice Chancellor (PVC) in 2000 and Acting Vice Chancellor (VC) of the University of Delhi in 2005. He is alleged to have recommended and conferred the title of Professor Emeritus upon himself in 2005 on the very next day of his retirement.  This it is believed is a clear violation of the Delhi University’s Ordinance and laws.

(A few developments took place around this time and make an interesting read about this person. Mind you, these are not blind accusations but serious charges which emerged from a RTI application involving Prof C.R. Babu. The notoriety of men and their counterparts who are accusing Art of Living of something which it did not do, will stand exposed after the following paragraphs)

The Dateline

It is now known that on June 11 (twenty days before his retirement), Prof Babu appointed Kanwar Manjeet Singh, then a finance officer as a registrar of Delhi University and June 11 was a Friday. The then registrar Dr. A.K. Dubey was on leave that day.

The same day June 11, Mr. Singh wrote a few official letters in his new capacity, to the Delhi Development Authority’s Vice-Chairman, Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forest and Departments of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology.

The letters stated that the university had entrusted the establishment and management of Yamuna Biodiversity Park and Aravalli Biodiversity Park to Prof Babu. “However, since these projects were entrusted by the DDA to Prof Babu on account of his personal expertise in this field, the university has made special provisions to enable smooth execution of financial as well as administrative issues of these projects.” stated the letter.

“The University of Delhi has empowered Prof Babu to operate, pursue and state all transactions and administrative nature with regard to the above mentioned projects,” said the letter and it also stated that Prof Babu would continue as Professor Emeritus with the University.

Prof Babu has so far received more than Rs 40 crore as funds in the last five years as an in- charge of the projects. This is a clear violation of Ordinance XII-B the Delhi university act which says that Professor Emeritus will carry with it no financial commitment.

Bottom line: Are the accused as mentioned above, the gentlemen by the names of Mr. Swatantra Kumar and Prof C.R. Babu have any moral fibre in them to behave so self-righteous and accuse Art of Living of causing something which did not occur? With an understanding of the story so far, it is very clear what is the truth? and what is not the truth in this whole episode. It is that clear!


Featured Picture Courtesy – www.natural-habitats.com

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