Will you issue public notice that Isha Foundation's 'Cauvery Calling' is not a state project? HC asks Karnataka govt

Bengaluru: Putting the state government in a spot, the Karnataka High Court wanted a clarification if the BJP-led government was willing to issue a public notice stating that the 'Cauvery Calling' project, started by Jaggi Vasudev's Isha Foundation and Isha Outreach, has nothing to do with it.

But in an affidavit submitted in the High Court earlier, the state government said Cauvery Calling was contributing to a government scheme in Karnataka - – Krishi Aranya Protsaha Yojane (KAPY) - implemented by the forest department. However, while speaking at an event organised by Isha Foundation in September 2019, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said that the forest department in the state would set aside two crore saplings for Cauvery Calling. It is in this backdrop that the High Court wanted a clarity.

In June, the Court wanted to know who was implementing the agroforestry campaign announced by Isha Outreach, according to a local news portal. The government subsequently replied that it was not a state government project.

Now a division bench headed by Chief Justice Abhay Sreeniwas Oka and Justice Vishwajith Shetty if it can issue a public notice clarifying its position that it is not involved in the 'Cauvery Calling' project.

"Show an order of the government which permits participation of respondent 2 (Isha Foundation) and 3 (Isha Outreach) in any of the government projects as mentioned in the statement of objection. Show us a single order which states that responsibility of respondent 2 is to mobilize farmers and enrol the farmers. If you can't show that, then say that they are doing their own project," the bench stated.

The court gave the state government has time till Wednesday to clarify its position.

'Cauvery Calling' is an agroforestry project flagged off in 2019 by Jaggi Vasudev's Isha Foundation which envisages planting trees along the Cauvery River. The collected a huge sum through donations from the public to plant more than 5 crore trees.

As money flowed in, the High Court questioned the state government about who was implementing the project since there were conflicting statements in and outside court.

The High Court was hearing a petition filed by advocate AV Amarnathan questioning the collection of funds from the public for 'Cauvery Calling'. Last month, the High Court struck off the petitioner from the case after he sent a legal notice to Discovery Channel asking it to refrain from telecasting a program about the project. The case is now being heard as a suo motu petition.

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