The Art of Living foundation has paid Rs 4.75 crore environment compensation to the Delhi Development Authority for an event on the Yamuna floodplain after the National Green Tribunal rejected its plea to accept a bank guarantee instead.
“[The] Art of Living has deposited compensation amount of Rs 4.75 crore to DDA account through demand draft on June 3,” ANI tweeted on Monday.
The Art of Living along with legal and environmental experts will brief the media at 3 pm on Monday.
The green tribunal had in May ruled that the foundation was indulging in multiplicity of litigation to wriggle out of paying the money and imposed a cost of Rs 5,000 on the foundation as its application “lacked bonafide”.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living was asked to pay both the amounts within one week.
“Your conscience should be clear, let people say what they want to. You fulfil your obligations,” said the bench.
A group of activists had asked the NGT not to allow the event on the eco-sensitive floodplain, accusing the foundation of flattening the ground, destroying birds’ nesting sites and choking the polluted Yamuna with construction debris.
Before giving the go-ahead to the festival that triggered a huge row, the country’s only green court on March 9 asked the foundation to deposit Rs 5 crore as initial compensation. The remaining amount would be decided after a committee assessed the damage, it said.
The foundation paid only Rs 25 lakh, promising to deposit the remaining amount after the event.
A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar ordered a committee tasked with reviving Yamuna to assess the damage and submit a report.
In a hearing on May 25, the NGT asked the foundation if it had deposited the money for damaging Yamuna’s biodiversity. The foundation, its counsel said, was ready to furnish the amount as bank guarantee instead of “payment of balance amount”. A bank guarantee is a promise from a bank or a lender to pay on behalf of its account holder.
The foundation said in a statement: “We find the verdict unjust and, if need be, after reviewing the order we will go to the Supreme Court. We have not violated any law or done any wrong.”
The tribunal, however, made it clear that corporate entity cannot be used to promote irregularities.
With inputs from agencies