Art of Living will challenge green tribunal’s Rs 5 cr penalty order

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 10, 2016 00:59 IST
The NGT on Wednesday slapped an initial fine of Rs.5 crore on spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living, but declined to stay the holding of the World Culture Festival on the fragile Yamuna flood plain. (Ravi Choudhary/HT Photo)

The Art of Living foundation on Wednesday said it will challenge the National Green Tribunal order, imposing a fine of Rs 5 crore on it as environmental compensation while clearing the decks for its three-day cultural extravaganza on the Yamuna floodplain.

Foundation chief Sri Sri Ravishankar tweeted that AOL was not “satisfied” with the verdict of the NGT and would appeal against it. He urged political parties not to “politicise” the event.

“We appreciate all those who came in support of World Culture Festival. The festival will go as per planned and, since we have not violated any rules, we will appeal against the NGT order,” an AOL spokesperson said.

“I appeal to all parties to not politicize the #WCF2016...We are not satisfied with the verdict. We will appeal against it. Satyameva Jayate!” the spiritual guru said in a series of tweets.

The foundation told the green court on Wednesday that the festival will not damage the floodplain.

“We have no intention to damage floodplain. We have taken every care,” said Saraswati Akshama Nath, counsel for the Art of Living foundation.

The tribunal had asked the organisers if the stage they had created was structurally safe, keeping in mind that the Prime Minister and other dignitaries were expected to attend.

Nath said a separate cabin was being built for Prime Minister Narendra Modi after his security team had expressed doubts about his attending the event. She said a similar enclosure had been built in Berlin when Art of Living held a cultural festival there.

The tribunal had reservations about the number of toilets at the venue.

“Are 650 toilets enough for 5 lakh people?” the bench asked during the hearing on Wednesday.

Nath said that since the foundation had held big events in the past, they were sure all logistics were planned accordingly and no waste would be released in the Yamuna.

According to the organisers, Rs 15.63 crore are being spent on temporary construction and an additional Rs 10 crore will be spent on decoration. With the Rs 5 crore fine, the cost of the event has now become Rs 30.63 crore.

The foundation, however, might have to shell out more. A tribunal appointed committee will assess the damage, if any, to the floodplain and the compensation to be charged for it.

(With inputs from PTI)

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