Sri Sri Ravishankar’s Art of Living Foundation says it won’t pay the remainder of the Rs 5 crore compensation until a scientific assessment of the damage is made, proposing instead to furnish a bank guarantee.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had fined the organisation for holding a grand fest on the Yamuna floodplain. It paid Rs 25 lakh on the day of the event and the remaining was to be paid by April 1.
The foundation has sent an application to the tribunal to modify its March 9 order and accept a bank guarantee instead. It said it was preparing a proposal to conduct a scientific study to assess the damage to the floodplain.
The tribunal had permitted the foundation to hold the festival on the condition that it paid Rs 5 crore as compensation before the event on March 11. The foundation, on the day of the event, said that it would pay Rs 25 lakh then and pay the remainder later. It submitted the latest application to the tribunal on April 1. The tribunal will look into their application on Monday.
The application filed by the foundation states, “The applicant (AOL) submits that the present application is being filed for modification of the order dated March 9 and March 11 to allow for submission for security by way of a bank guarantee in lieu of payment of balance as directed. The applicant is in the process of preparing a proposal, laying down the process/methodology for collection of scientific data/evidence regarding the assessment of actual environmental damage, if any. It hopes to persuade the tribunal that the damage is neither permanent nor irreversible but, in fact, remediable. Therefore, it seeks an opportunity to demonstrate that the allegations levelled against it are baseless. The reports submitted by expert committees, on the basis of which the previous orders were made, were predominantly based on visual examination of the site.”
The application has got Yamuna activists fuming.
“The March 9 judgment establishes the damage was done. If AOL felt that it was wrong, why did it pay Rs 25 lakh as a first instalment? The damage is there for all to see. The judgment clearly states that the amount is needed to restore the floodplain,” said Manoj Misra, who filed the petition against the foundation in February.