Tamil Nadu

Isha Foundation flouted norms: CAG

Isha Foundation had continued with construction activity on the elephant corridor despite pending writs in High Court, the CAG said. File photo  

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has found that Isha Foundation, Coimbatore, had continued construction at its headquarters in an elephant habitat/corridor without obtaining a no objection certificate from the Hill Area Conservation Authority (HACA).

Despite issuing two notices in 2012, and returning the NOC request in February 2013, the State Forest Department did not take any follow-up action to stop further construction. Instead, the Coimbatore District Forest Officer, when re-approached by Isha in 2017, forwarded it to the Principal Chief Commissioner of Forests with a recommendation to grant HACA permission.

These revelations are found in the CAG report on Economic Sector for the year ending March 2017 tabled in the Assembly on Monday.

“Isha still has not obtained the NOC from HACA,” said a highly placed source in the government.

The Isha Foundation constructed various buildings between 1994 and 2008 on an area of 32,856 sq.ft at Booluvapatti village with permission from the panchayat.

In October 2011, the foundation requested the Forest Department to issue an NOC and ex-post facto approval from HACA for the already constructed buildings in an area of 69,193 sq.m., proposed construction on an area of 52,393 sq.m. and area of 3,34,331 sq.m. for vehicle parking, roads, playground and so on.

The DFO conducted a field inspection in February 2012 and observed that earlier constructions of buildings in 11,973 sq.m. undertaken from 2005 to 2008 were permitted by the panchayat without consulting HACA.

In a statement, the Isha Foundation said it was not fully aware of details in the CAG report. “We affirm that we have followed due process for getting the requisite approvals for our buildings,” it said.

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Printable version | Oct 28, 2020 1:29:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/isha-foundation-flouted-norms-cag/article24393672.ece

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