The National Green Tribunal on Friday directed Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living foundation to deposit by tomorrow an environment compensation of Rs 4.75 crore imposed on it for damaging Yamuna’s biodiversity during its three-day ‘World Culture Festival’ in March.
A vacation bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar directed the foundation to deposit the amount with Delhi Development Authority (DDA) through RTGS (instant transfer) by June 4.
The green panel also directed the expert committee headed by Shashi Shekhar, Secretary of Ministry of Water Resources, to inspect the site, on Yamuna floodplains where the festival was organised, before June 10 and submit a “complete and comprehensive” report in a sealed cover by July 4.
The bench said that if the inspection was not done before June 10, the whole purpose of visit by the expert committee would be “defeated” as there were chances of rain.
It also said that besides Shekhar, the inspection committee would comprise of senior scientist from National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, Professor C.R. Babu, Professor A.K. Gosain, Professor Brij Gopal and two more members.
The NGT also clarified that the foundation would have to deposit the cost of Rs. 5000, imposed on it for filing a plea lacking in bonafide with the NGT Bar Association.
The matter is now listed for next hearing on July 19.
The tribunal had slammed the Art of Living foundation for not depositing the environment compensation imposed on it, saying it was “wilful violation” of its undertakings.
It had held that corporate entity cannot be used to promote irregularities and said it would even lift the “corporate veil” and find “real substance” of the matter while examining the case to ascertain the truth.
It had earlier dismissed the foundation’s plea seeking its nod to accept the environment compensation, slapped for damaging Yamuna’s biodiversity, as bank guarantee instead of “payment of balance amount” of Rs. 4.75 crore.
The green panel on March 9 had > refused to prohibit the three-day ‘World Culture Festival’, held by Art of Living between March 11 and 13, but asked it pay a compensation of Rs. 5 crore for damaging biodiversity and aquatic life of Yamuna.
On March 11, AOL had moved a plea seeking four weeks time for depositing the amount after which the tribunal allowed the foundation to deposit Rs. 25 lakh on that day and granted three weeks time period to pay the balance amount.