Staff Reporter

HC, green tribunal issue notice to Isha Foundation

Plea to demolish its unauthorised construction on wet land above a canal

February 18, 2017 01:34 am | Updated 01:34 am IST - CHENNAI

The Coimbatore-based Isha Foundation, faces double trouble as the Madras High Court and the Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) have ordered notices on two separate pleas against the foundation.

The issue before the High Court pertains to a public interest litigation (PIL) petition moved by Velliangiri Hill Tribal Protection Society seeking to demolish unauthorised construction of an one-lakh-sqft structure the foundation was building on a wet land, that too above a canal.

The petition also sought action against Coimbatore Collector T.N. Hariharan for failing to stop the unauthorised construction on land falling under the Hill Area Conservation Authority (HACA), despite the objections from the public, the District Forest Officer, and the Pollution Control Board.

When the petition came up for hearing before the First Bench of Acting Chief Justice Huluvadi G. Ramesh and Justice R. Mahadevan, it was initially reluctant to admit the plea since many petitions seeking similar relief were pending, but ordered notice later returnable by March 3.

Man-animal conflict

Meanwhile, the application moved before the NGT by advocate M. Vetri Selvan wanted the tribunal to pass an interim order restraining Isha Foundation from conducting Mahashivarathri festival from February 21 to 25 in the buffer zone pointed out by the District Forest Officer (DFO), Coimbatore.

According to the petitioner, most of the lands owned by the foundation based at the foothills of Velliangiri Mountains are located in the elephant corridor. Claiming that thousands visits the foundation every day, and the crowd increased to a lakh during festival like Mahashivarathri, the petitioner contended that this drastically increased the man-animal conflict in the area and disturb the peaceful existence of wild animals in the area.

Mr. Selvan pointing out an objection raised by the DFO saying that the festival attracts more than two lakh devotees to the foundation. Due to high decibel level and a huge influx of vehicles to the event, besides use of powerful lights, the normal life of the elephant habitat gets disturbed and in an eventuality the elephant herds attack devotees.

On the basis of the objection raised by the DFO the petitioner wanted the tribunal to intervene. Though the tribunal admitted the application, it refused to pass any interim order and posted the plea to March 27 for further hearing.

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