New Delhi :
The Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar today sounded defiant saying he would rather go to jail than pay the fine imposed on his organisation by the national green tribunal (NGT) for environmental violations over a cultural extravaganza on the floodplains of Yamuna.
“We have not done anything wrong. We have been taintless and will remain so. We we will go to jail but not pay a penny,” said Ravishankar.
The NGT on Wednesday imposed a fine of Rs five crore on AOL as environmental compensation while clearing the decks for its three-day cultural extravaganza.
The organisation’s chief Sri Sri Ravi Shankar also 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.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar also denied that any tree at the venue was felled and claimed that the trees had only been pruned and all they had done was level the floodplain.
“Not a single tree was felled. Trees were only pruned and we levelled the floodplain,” he said today.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar also expressed confidence that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the festival and claimed that people opposing it would “soon see sense”.
“This is like a Cultural Olympics. 37,000 artistes from all over the world would come together at one single platform. This is an event to bring people closer to each other. Event of this magnitude should be welcomed,” he told NDTV.
Notwithstanding the raging row over environmental damage due to the 3-day festival, the NGT yesterday gave its go ahead to the event to be held on the Yamuna floodplains from March 11, expressing its helplessness in banning it because of “fait accompli”.
Nevertheless, it imposed a fine of Rs five crore on AOL as environmental compensation after coming down heavily on the foundation for not disclosing its full plans. The green bench also criticised the DDA and Environment Ministry for their role.
Art of Living gets freen signal from SC
The Supreme Court today refused to entertain a plea seeking its direction to stop the three-day mega event, World Culture Festival, at the banks of Yamuna river being organised by the Art Of Living Foundation (AOL) of spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
A bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur asked the petitioner Bhartiya Kishan Majdoor Samiti to approach the National Green Tribunal (NGT) with its plea as the three-day event is all set to begin tomorrow.
“This preparation is going on for a long time. Why have you come now? Why don’t you go to the NGT,” the bench said.
The bench also raised apprehension on the motive of filing such a petition at the eleventh hour, saying, “So you seek publicity out of it?”
The petition alleged that no requisite permissions have been granted by various authorities concerned to this proposed event.
The NGT yesterday expressed its helplessness in banning the event, saying it was “fait accompli”.
Nevertheless, it imposed a fine of Rs five crores on AOL as environmental compensation after coming down heavily on the foundation for not disclosing its full plans and also on the DDA and Environment Ministry for their role.
The green tribunal, which found several environmental violations committed by the organisers, blamed the delay on the part of environmental activists in raising the issue before it which compelled it to grant permission for event.
The NGT clearance came on a day the Delhi High Court described the event, from whose valedictory function the President has already pulled out, as a “disaster” from the ecological point of view.