In a counter affidavit filed in the Madras High Court in response to a PIL petition filed against Isha Yoga Center, the Directorate of Town and Country Planning (DTCP) of the Tamil Nadu government has endorsed the petitionerâ€™s claim that necessary approvals were not obtained 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.
The response has been filed by R. Selvaraj, Deputy Director in-charge, Town and Country Planning, Coimbatore Region, on his own behalf and on behalf of Commissioner, Town and Country Planning, Chennai, explaining the various processes that the DTCP had put in place to ensure that the other respondents fulfilled the necessary requirements in obtaining permissions and approvals.
This has been filed on March 1, though the date given by the HC was March 3. It may be recalled that the Madras HC heard PIL petition filed by P Muthamal, President of the Velliangiri Hill Tribal Protection Society, seeking to demolish unauthorised construction, including a Shivan statue built on wet lands, restraining further construction, and seeking action against Coimbatore District Collector TN Hariharan for allowing such unauthorised constructions to come up on land falling within the ambit of the Hill Area Conservation Authority (HACA). It issued notices to the Government returnable by March 3.
In the meantime, the bust of Adiyogi was unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 24 on the occasion of Mahashivaratri.
â€śThe TN government should have stopped the Mahashivratri event if the Shiva Statue was built without permissions. Because the TN government did not put its foot down, the Prime Ministerâ€™s office has been party to an illegality,â€ť says Nityanand Jayaraman, an activist based in Chennai.
The affidavit also makes a reference to the already existing lock and seal notice served on the Center on 21.12.2012 by the DTCP on the unauthorised construction made by Isha on 109 acres of land that was obtained â€śfor the purpose of establishing Isha Meditation Lingam Religious Worship and connected buildingsâ€ť.
â€śThis is more an admission of guilt by the Tamil Nadu government. If there is a lock and seal notice, why have they not gone ahead with it? What is stopping them? Are they scared of Isha?â€ť asks Nityanand Jayaraman.
Advocate for P Muthamal, R Kalaiarasu says that that DTCP has clearly mentioned that it has sought all the necessary documents regarding approvals before giving its clearance to Isha. But Isha had gone ahead and constructed the statue and other buildings pending permissions and approvals.
The DTCP has further noted that it had directed Isha to submit all the details as per its checklist for the purpose of establishing the statue and connected buildings, along with the plans, to obtain permission from the Hill Area Conservation Authority (HACA).
There are 12 respondents in the case. The Madras HC will wait till all of them give responses before passing a judgement.