NEW DELHI: With his mega spiritual fest set to begin on Friday, Sri Sri Ravishankar has said he will not pay the fine imposed by the green court and would appeal against it.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the World Culture Festival which hopes to see 35 lakh people in attendance. On Wednesday, the National Green Tribunal imposed a fine of `5 crore on Art of Living for destroying the ecological system of the river bed.
Sri Sri said that he would rather go to jail than pay up the fine. During the day, the NGT Bench, headed by chairperson Swatanter Kumar, said that AOL has time to pay the fine till Friday and law would take its course if it fails to do so.
In the wake of controversies triggered by concerns over environmental violations, President Pranab Mukherjee pulled out of the valedictory function on Saturday. Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, who was one of the invitees, has also pulled out of the event.
On Wednesday, the NGT expressed helplessness in banning the event after activists petitioned the tribunal seeking a prohibition of the event on the ground that there was large scale violation of environmental norms on account of the event. However, it imposed a fine of `5 crore on AOL as environmental compensation and asked the organisation to deposit the amount with the Delhi Development Authority on Thursday after it found several environmental violations on the part of the organisers of the event.
A last ditch attempt by an NGO to seek the intervention of the Supreme Court to stop the event also failed with the petitioner being asked to go to the NGT with his plea.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur asked petitioner Bhartiya Kishan Majdoor Samiti to approach the National Green Tribunal (NGT) with the plea as the three-day event was set to begin on Friday.
“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 asked the petitioner why he was coming with the petition at the eleventh hour. “So you seek publicity out of it,” it observed. On his part, Ravishankar said he would rather go to jail than paying the fine on his organisation.
“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,” he said.When pressed further whether he would defy rules, Ravi Shankar said, “I will abide by rules but I have done nothing wrong.”