Calling the recently-concluded event of Art of Living (AOL) Foundation on the floodplains of Yamuna river a “blatant, and complete violation” of laws, former Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh Thursday wondered whether some “higher-ups” had made phone calls to the National Green Tribunal, which had allowed the event to go on.
“These days the communication technology is such that one cannot say I did not get your call… Maybe someone… I don’t know… higher-ups… it is possible… made phone calls to the NGT,” said Ramesh, after delivering the B G Verghese Lecture.
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The NGT had last week imposed an initial fine of Rs 5 crore on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s AOL for the damage being caused to the floodplains, but had allowed its World Culture Festival to go on as “fait accompli”. The NGT had ruled that the AOL would have to pay for the restoration of the Yamuna, the cost of which would be determined by an expert panel.
Ramesh said the Narendra Modi government had been ignoring environmental concerns in its pursuit to achieve economic growth. He claimed that the RSS was much more positive on environment.
“The RSS and the Prime Minister have very divergent lines on the issue of environment protection. The RSS does not want any dams on Ganga, but Mr Modi does. The RSS is very circumspect about genetically modified food, but Mr Modi is not. RSS wants strict enforcement of (laws related to) tribal rights and forest rights but Mr Modi does not,” he said.