Isha’s Response to CAG Report
In 2017, the CAG mentioned Isha Foundation under 2 headings - ‘Non-eviction of encroachment in Forest Area” and “Urbanization in Elephant Reserve”. This response is to highlight the inaccuracies/incompleteness of the CAG report.
|Table of Content|
|2. Elephant Corridor|
|3. Building Approvals|
The CAG report has mentioned Isha in the section "Non – eviction of encroachment in Forest Area" and says:
"Government replied (November 2017) that the encroachments did not fall under the purview of TBGP (Tamil Nadu Biodiversity Conservation and Greening Project). The reply is not tenable as the project included strengthening resource protection with geo referencing location boundary markers using Global Positioning System (GPS) for monitoring encroachments and the same was implemented in Booluvapatti village which was part of Coimbatore DMU.
The Tamil Nadu Forest Department itself in its Counter Affidavit filed categorically states that:
- There is no encroachment in the Reserve Forest (RF) area or violation of the RF boundary by Isha Foundation.
- The Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change in its Counter Affidavit before the Hon’ble National Green Tribunal states that there is no encroachment in the Reserve Forest (RF) area or violation of the RF boundary by Isha Foundation.
All these conclusions are based on the report of the Regional Conservator of Forests, Coimbatore Region.
2. Elephant Corridor
The CAG report says, “Urbanization in Elephant Reserve: The buildings were in the protected area of Booluvapatti reserve forest range, known for elephant corridor / habitat."
- In the counter affidavits filed by the Tamil Nadu Forest Department, the Tamil Nadu Forest Department nowhere mentions that Isha is in the elephant corridor.
- The Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change in its Counter Affidavit Before the Hon’ble National Green Tribunal, Southern Zone, Chennai, also does not state that Isha is in the elephant corridor.
- The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) while replying to an RTI also does not mention Isha or any area near Isha in the list of elephant corridors in Tamil Nadu.
- The Gajah Report – The report of the Elephant Task Force, Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change does not state that Isha is in the elephant corridor.
- The Right Of Passage – Elephant Corridors of India by the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) also does not mention the area in which Isha is present as an elephant corridor.
- Eminent scientists working in the field of elephant conservation clearly state that Isha Foundation is nowhere close to an elephant corridor.
Even the Counter Affidavit filed by the Tamil Nadu Forest Department also states that these allegations have cropped up because of some petty dispute with officials of Isha Foundation.
3. Building Approvals
The CAG Report says "….. approval of HACA was pending (July 2017)."
In March 2017, the HACA approved all the buildings of Isha Foundation. In May, technical clearance was given by the Tamil Nadu Town & Country Planning.
All these facts were ignored by the CAG in its report.