NEW DELHI: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living (AOL) foundation told the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday that it needed a month’s time to pay the five-crore penalty as it was a charitable organisation.
However, the NGT expressed its displeasure over the spiritual guru’s statement that he ‘will go to prison but not pay the fine’ and said such a statement was not expected from a person with such high stature.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had earlier said that he would rather go to jail than pay the fine imposed by NGT for environmental violations on the floodplains due to massive constructions. He had also said that AOL was not "satisfied" with the verdict of the NGT and would appeal against it.
The National Green Tribunal on Wednesday cleared the three-day festival on the Yamuna floodplains but rebuked the organizers and the government for failing to take enough precaution to protect the venue's ecosystem.
Meanwhile, the activists are demanding a ban on the event saying that construction at the venue has been allowed without any risk assessment to the environment.
The government, however, earlier in the day attempted to downplay the controversy with regard to the event.
Asserting that the World Culture Festival will bring glory to India, Union Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said the event must not be politicised as it celebrates diversity.
"World Culture Festival by Art of Living will bring glory to India. Let’s not politicise this. 36,000 artists participating in one event is in itself a record. It’s a cultural event 2 celebrate diversity. Let's celebrate & join d festival," Naidu said in a series of tweets.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had yesterday confirmed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be attending the three-day 'World Culture Festival' being organised by the Art of Living Foundation beginning today.
Talking to ANI, he said that Prime Minister Modi would be attending the event and added that he has received a letter from President Pranab Mukherjee wishing good luck.