The Madras High Court on Wednesday permitted a sub application filed by Isha Foundation to amend its prayer in a writ petition since the Centre had on May 19 this year issued a office memorandum defining ‘educational institution’ to mean even institutes that impart training on things essential for mental, moral and physical development.
The foundation contended that the definition would be squarely applicable to its facilities since they provide yoga training and therefore, it was not necessary for it to have obtained environment clearance while constructing a total built-up area of 1,25,800.41 square metres on 48.74 hectares at Vellingiri hills in Coimbatore district.
Though the foundation had in January this year challenged a 2014 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification too fearing that it does not grant exemption to it, the petitioner now wanted to amend its prayer, in view of the May 19 clarification, and confine its challenge to the prosecution launched by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board alone.
Acting Chief Justice T. Raja and Justice D. Krishnakumar permitted the foundation to amend the prayer, alter certain paragraphs in its affidavit and also raise additional grounds challenging the TNPCB’s action. After allowing all three sub applications, the judges adjourned the hearing on the main writ petition to November 21.
Representing the TNPCB, Advocate General R. Shunmugasundaram, however, contended that Isha Foundation had constructed meditation halls, mandapam, activity halls, assembly halls, work sheds, twin building and duplex buildings and that these constructions by no stretch of imagination could be termed as ‘educational institution.’
He argued that the facilities created by the foundation could only be termed as an infrastructure project and that it was absolutely essential to obtain prior environmental clearance for such projects as per the EIA notifications issued by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests in 2006 and 2014.