NewsLaundry’s dirty lies — part 2

Continuing from the earlier post (https://bigfundu.medium.com/newslaundrys-dirty-lies-part-1-605aa8311859) we continue busting the lies propounded by NewsLaundry against the Isha Foundation and Sadhguru.

Lie #7: Primary reason for man-animal conflict is illegal construction in the elephant habitat, and Isha is involved on a wide scale.

Facts:

There are two lies in this statement.

(1) First lie is that there is illegal construction by Isha in the elephant habitat.

It is well known that the elephant habitat means the forest area here. The fact of the matter is that officials of the Tamil Nadu Forest Department have verified and clearly documented that Isha Yoga Center has not infringed onto forest land and that there is no adverse impact on the surrounding flora and fauna.

(i) The document reference number CFCIT/07/2013 was quoted by the Tamil Nadu Forest Department in its Counter Affidavit for Writ Petitions filed by pseudo environmental groups in the Hon’ble Madras High Court and National Green Tribunal. Note that the Coimbatore District Forest Officer himself has signed this document.

(ii) The Ministry of Environment & Forests and Climate Change, Government of India, in its Counter Affidavit filed before the National Green Tribunal has reiterated that Isha is not in any Forest land. They are adjacent to an elephant habitat, the forest area, but that does not mean the Center is lying on an elephant corridor.

A local person talks about how they have sold lands to Isha willingly and for a lot more money.

He very strongly denies that Isha is on forest land.

Somebody was telling me that they have built the ashram on a waterbody. As far as we have personally investigated, the stream that flows that Isha is completely undisturbed. There are no buildings near it to consider under the same plot. So, such arguments do not hold water, literally.

(2) The second lie is that there is a lot of man-animal conflict in the area due to Isha.

As recently as in 2020, the National Green Tribunal has rejected Vetriselvan’s case against Isha Foundation and stated categorically its observations dismissing his false claims.

The order also stated that no man-animal conflict has been reported during Maha Shivaratri festival. “So far, no untoward incidents of damages to life/property by wild animals’ are reported to have happened during this festival.”

The Tribunal also stated that Isha Yoga Centre is not located in the elephant corridor.

In the previous post, we have shown the elephants coming into the area for food primarily. The lands near Isha Foundation have been agricultural lands, with primarily sugarcane, tamarind, and banana plantations. All of these are very attractive for elephants as sources of food.

Also, the sighting of elephants near Isha Center have not been like a big herd — they are just stray elephants that have moved away from a herd. There is lot of documented media reports about such stray elephants coming into the Coimbatore city through the years.

In fact, since 2015 and recently in 2018 and 2019, farmers in Coimbatore had complained to district authorities to compensate them for the crops being damaged due to the elephant menace.

Now considering all these incidents of stray elephants coming to different areas of Coimbatore, is one going to take a stand that the whole of Coimbatore is elephant corridor and entire district has to be evacuated?

Lie #8: Isha Foundation has admitted that their buildings were built violating laws

Fact: Isha Foundation had published an open letter to the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority, which is being floated around that the foundation itself has admitted to violating environment laws.

The fact is that this letter is for application of EIA clearance and states that the EIA notification of 2006 (not violating the EIA laws) has been missed by the Foundation & so they submit their application forms therewith.

Also, people like NL seem to be deliberately missing to publish the follow-up clarification Isha had published — that the Foundation had earlier applied for clearance under a wrong category and as part of rectifying it, they had withdrawn their earlier EIA application.

And in the 373rd meeting of the State Level EIA authority of Tamilnadu held in March 2020, it was decided to provide EIA clearance to Isha Foundation based on certain conditions, which is expected of the authority.

Lie #9: Rush of the devotees to the ashram — nearly two lakh on Mahashivratri alone — had heightened man-animal conflict

Fact: In November 2020, this false appeal by Mr Vetriselvan was dismissed by the National Green Tribunal after sufficient inquiry.

The NGT report has categorically stated that no man-animal conflict has been reported during the MahaShivaratri festival.

“So far, no untoward incidents of damages to life/property by wild animals’ are reported to have happened during this festival.”

The Tribunal also clearly stated in its report that Isha Yoga Centre is not located in the elephant corridor.

Stay tuned as we expose more of these lies being spread about Sadhguru and Isha by NewsLaundry …

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