You always try to find a way out, NGT raps Sri Sri, slaps another fine
NEW DELHI: The National Green Tribunal on Tuesday rejected the Art of Living foundation’s plea that it be allowed to pay environment compensation — the fine slapped on it for allegedly damaging the Yamuna’s biodiversity by organising World Cuture Festival on floodplains of the river — in the form of a bank guarantee rather than cash.
The tribunal also imposed a fine of Rs 5,000 on Art of Living founded by spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, for filing such a plea, which “lacked bonafide”. It directed the Art of Living foundation to pay the remaining amount of fine, about Rs 4.75 crore, in a week.
A bench, headed by National Green Tribunal Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, pulled up the Art of Living foundation for not depositing the amount despite earlier assurances to the tribunal.
Reacting to applications filed by the foundation, it said, “First discharge your obligations and then make allegations. You always try to create a way out. One of your trustees made a statement before us that the foundation would deposit the amount in three weeks and now you want extension. This is totally unacceptable.
“We had asked expert committee to visit your site on Yamuna flood plains. Now, you have moved an application alleging bias. You cannot make allegations and accusations against everybody and anybody.”
Before the beginning of the three-day World Culture Festival in March this year, the tribunal had slapped a fine of Rs 5 crore on the Art of Living foundation for damaging biodiversity and aquatic life of Yamuna.
The Art of Living foundation had then sought to submit a proposal for laying down a methodology for collection of scientific data regarding assessment of actual environmental damage and requested the tribunal to grant 45 days for the same.
The National Green Tribunal will hear the plea on July 4.
Meanwhile, the foundation reacted to the tribunal’s order saying it was “unjust” and might appeal against it.
“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 organisation said in a release.