Recently, Academy Award winner Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio came out in support of Isha Foundation’s ‘Cauvery Calling’ campaign.
“India’s rivers are severely endangered with many of its smaller rivers vanishing. Join Sadhguru and the Isha Foundation in their fight to preserve the Cauvery river,” Dicaprio, an advocate for measures to curb climate change said in a message on his Facebook page.
‘Cauvery Calling’ campaign was launched in July this year by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev the spiritual leader of the Isha Foundation. The campaign aims to revitalise the dying river which is the source of livelihoods, irrigation and drinking water for 84 million people,
The letter by Leo F Saldanha, Coordinator, Environment Support Group, on behalf of the Coalition for Environmental Justice in India, a coalition of NGOs, civil society groups and individuals, wrote a letter to DiCaprio urging him to withdraw support to the campaign.
The letter stated that the Isha Foundation has “very low credibility in conforming with Indian laws protecting human rights and environment” and had built its headquarters into an elephant corridor and on land belonging to Adivasis.
Saldanha further stated that Sadhguru and the Isha Foundation "often resorted to populist and simplistic methods on various public concerns, and thus aiding denigration of systematic and serious efforts necessary to address complex environmental and social justice causes”.
The letter further noted that the massive funds being made available to a private foundation like Isha was “quite worrying”.
While welcoming the idea of planting more trees, Saldanha rejected the approach of Isha Foundation as “a monoculturist paradigm of landscape restoration which people of India have rejected long ago”. He further stated that it could create unintended and unforeseen social and ecological consequences and be used for encroachment of the floodplains and riverbeds.
The letter said that the support of the actor to the campaign was “ill-advised” and should be withdrawn. The letter also gave a long list of different organisations and individuals endorsing it.
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