Two months after the grand cultural event was organized by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living Foundation, the NGT has directed the organization to pay a fine amounting to Rs. 5 crores in compensation, for the damages caused to Yamuna riverbed.
This, indeed, comes as a big blow to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar who claims that the impact assessment of the Yamuna riverbed following the event was done incorrectly.
The green panel also slapped a fine of Rs 5,000 on AOL for filing such application which “lacks bonafide” and directed it to pay the remainder amount in one week.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar rapped the AOL foundation for not depositing the amount despite assurance granted to the tribunal.
The AOL, in its application had stated that it is in the process of preparing a proposal laying down parameters/methodology for collection of scientific data/evidence regarding assessment of actual environmental damage, if any, and hopes to persuade NGT that, “damage, if any, is neither permanent nor irreversible but in fact remediable”.
The NGT stated that the AOL Foundation lacks bonafide as it did not live up on its commitment to pay the fine. The tribunal said the AOL has been engaging in multiple litigations in order to not pay the fine.
The Art of Living had been allowed to go ahead with the three-day “World Culture Festival” on the banks of the river Yamuna on the condition that it would pay a Rs 5 crore penalty for damage to the area’s delicate ecosystem. The organisation paid Rs 25 lakhs initially and promised to pay the remainder later.
”The Art of Living used the order of the court to hold the event and then went back on its commitment,” the National Green Tribunal said on Tuesday, adding that the organisers have tried multiple legal cases “in order not to pay the fine” as a result of which the “conduct of the foundation has been called into question.”
The World Culture Festival had been held on the Yamuna floodplains from March 11 to 13. It was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi though president Pranab Mukherjee dropped out after the controversy erupted.