Karnataka

HC asks Isha Foundation to disclose amount collected for Cauvery Calling

A file photo of Jaggi Vasudev, founder, Isha Foundation, speaking about Cauvery Calling in Madikeri.

A file photo of Jaggi Vasudev, founder, Isha Foundation, speaking about Cauvery Calling in Madikeri.  

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Isha Foundation only promoting govt.’s Krishi Aranya Protsaha Yojane of 2011 by mobilising farmers: State

The High Court of Karnataka on Tuesday asked Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev’s Isha Foundation to spell out the amount collected so far for their ‘Cauvery Calling’ project, besides questioning whether the foundation was authorised to collect funds for the project. A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Hemant Chandangoudar directed the foundation to file its additional statements as the earlier statement filed did not contain details like the manner of fund collection and whether the contribution towards Cauvery Calling was voluntary or not.

As the statement filed by the foundation did not contain the name of the ‘authorised signatory’, the Bench said that law mandates disclosure of details of persons filling statements before the court and orally observed that “even spiritual organisations are bound by law”.

The Bench was hearing a PIL petition, filed by city-based advocate A.V. Amaranathan, who had alleged that the State government was allowing the foundation to use government land to plant saplings by collecting over ₹10,000 crore as donation from the public.

KAPY scheme of 2011

In its statement, the government said that the foundation is only promoting and creating awareness about the government’s Krishi Aranya Protsaha Yojane (KAPY), an agro-forestation scheme, which was started in 2011. The KAPY scheme is about giving saplings of their choice to farmers at subsidised rates and offering them annual incentives of ₹10, ₹15, and ₹20 for the first, the second and the third year for every surviving sapling planted under the scheme. In 2017, these incentives had been enhanced, the government pointed out to the court.

In a bid to encourage private participation in the scheme, the government made provisions for the payment of incentives for the voluntary act of private agencies of educating and mobilising farmers to enrol into the KAPY scheme, the government stated. It pointed out that Cauvery Calling was submitted to the government in April 2019, and it was accepted only for the limited purpose of mobilisation of farmers and enrolling them in to the existing KAPY scheme.

The government has also clarified that the it was neither sponsoring nor financing the project of the foundation, and the drive of the foundation to collect donation for saplings was not part of the KAPY scheme and such collection of donation, if any, would be a “private affair.” The government further clarified that it is neither participating in nor promoting the foundation’s project.

While denying the allegation made by the petitioner that government lands were being used for the foundation’s project, the government said neither any land of the government has been given for the project nor the has the foundation taken over the government’s project. However, the foundation has already started its task of creating awareness programmes for people residing in the Cauvery basin and is promoting KAPY, the government said.

25 crore saplings

In its statement, the foundation stated that total cost of planting saplings (with the cost of each sapling between ₹3 and ₹30), its maintenance, manpower, training, etc., would not be less than ₹100. However, the same has been capped at ₹42 per sapling. At present, 69,760 farmers have come forwarded to provide their lands for planting of the saplings and in Karnataka, it is proposed to plant 25 crore saplings in the Cauvery basin, the foundation claimed.

The Bench adjourned further hearing till February 12.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 10:56:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/hc-asks-isha-foundation-to-disclose-amount-collected-for-cauvery-calling/article30507343.ece

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