January 11, 2022
The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board has been ordered not to proceed with any further action of prosecution on its show-cause notice to the Isha Foundation. The order was issued by the Madras High Court after a hearing on 11 January 2022. The High Court also directed that notices be issued to the central and state governments and several other agencies.
On 7 January 2022, the Isha Foundation had approached the Madras High Court against a show-cause notice issued by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board in November 2021 on environmental clearances for buildings constructed between 1994 and 2012. The buildings house educational institutions that the Foundation runs. The Foundation’s position is that the notice is based on a wrong interpretation of a 2014 notification issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
“We manage a large group of educational institutions that includes a residential ICSE school, a culture-based school that teaches Classical Dance, Music and Yoga in the Gurukula tradition, and a major center for yoga that trains yoga teachers and also offers residential instruction in yoga practices to thousands of learners,” said a spokesperson for the Isha Foundation. “Our understanding is that, an educational institute that is less than 1.5 lakh square meters in area does not need environmental clearance. We had communicated this to the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, which unfortunately did not consider our response.”
The Isha educational institutions also offer learning programmes in Leadership, for senior executives from both the public and private sectors, in Entrepreneurship and Advanced Management, and in Hatha Yoga, a government-accredited program attended by students from across the world.
The High Court will take up the matter again on 1 February 2022.