The National Green Tribunal has granted three weeks to the Art of Living Foundation (AOL) to deposit the Rs. 5 crore environmental compensation amount stating that Rs. 25 lakh will need to be deposited on Friday before the order.
The Art of Living Foundation (AOL) had sought four weeks time to comply with the National Green Tribunal order to pay Rs. 5 crore environmental compensation imposed on them to host the World Cultural Festival, which begins this evening on the stressed and fragile floodplains of Yamuna.
The amount had to be paid before the commencement of the programme.
Not penalty, but an environment compensation
The Foundation said Rs. 5 crore ought to be taken as restoration amount for the bio-diversity park and not as a penalty. It pointed out that it was a charitable organisation and it would be difficult to “generate Rs 5 crore in such a short period.”
The NGT too, in its order, has noted that the Rs 5. crore is not penalty but an environment compensation. It added that if AOL fails to pay the entire amount within three weeks then the grant of Rs. 2.25 crores from the Ministry of Culture to the Foundation will be attached.
AOL also confirmed to the NGT that they had taken permission from the fire department for the three-day event.
"Don't make the Tribunal a subject of controversy"
AOL was asked if it was correct that the Foundation made a statement that it would not pay the fine amount of Rs 5 crore. To this, AOL replied said that the statement could not be taken in isolation.
Art of Living founder Ravi Shankar told NDTV on Thursday afternoon that he would rather go to jail than pay the fine. He argued that he had not violated any rule, hence was not liable to pay any penalty. He said the foundation would challenge the tribunal’s order in the top court.
The Tribunal asked AOL no not "make the Tribunal a subject of controversy."