A day after the Tamil Nadu government in a counter affidavit filed in the Madras High Court said that there were unauthorized constructions at the Isha Yoga Center premises in Coimbatore, Jaggi Vasudev has alleged that certain groups were targeting him.
On Wednesday, the Directorate of Town and Country Planning (DTCP) of the Tamil Nadu government told the Madras High Court that necessary approvals were not obtained by Isha Foundation for construction of the 112-ft Sivan statue and other buildings like arch, road, a parking lot and mandapams – some of them built on wetlands.
In an interview to CNN News 18’s Anuradha Sengupta, the founder of Isha Foundation, Jaggi Vasudev said that he would leave the land if even one allegation against him was proved.
“The DTCP had issued a notice to us. We have disputed that. There is a law that some 50 metres from the forest area, or from the boundary, you should not build anything. We have maintained that. Some judge somewhere has said it must be 150 metres. 150 metres is 500 feet. 500 feet means I am outside my land. Just one person has said that, otherwise all the law, all the precedent in the High Court says 50 metres. We have been maintaining 50 metres,” he said.
In a reply to a PIL filed by Vellingiri Hill Tribal Protection Society seeking demolition of some illegal constructions, DTPC said that a lock, seal and demolition notice was issued to Isha Foundation on December 21, 2012, over unauthorised construction in 109 acres of land in Ikkarai Poluvampatti village.
“Our neighbourhood is all areca nut and coconut farms. This was all there even before I came. These are all revenue lands, these are not forest lands. Yes, there is a forest close by. It is not an elephant corridor. The environment ministry doesn’t say that, the World Wild Life fund doesn’t say that, the state forest department doesn’t say that,” Jaggi Vasudev said.
Many environmental groups, residents and tribals have been opposing Isha Foundation’s constructions in the wetlands. Jaggi Vasudeva clubbed them all together as people with vested interests who wished to target the foundation.
“There are groups that have agendas. They are all posing to be environmental groups, there are a whole lot of people who go with ‘josh’ for hunting. Every Saturday and Sunday they were eating venison. We stopped that. They were chopping sandalwood trees whenever they wanted, we stopped that. There were groups that were growing marijuana in the forests, we stopped that. There were people who were exploiting tribal girls. I stopped that. When I stopped that, you should have seen the media onslaught that happened on me. Anything that a man can do and cannot do I have been accused. Just prove one damn thing, I will leave,” he said.