The Art of Living Foundation, which is led by spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar, must pay remaining Rs 4.75-crore fine for hosting a massive festival on the banks of the River Yamuna in Delhi, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) said today.
Strongly criticising organisation for going ahead with the three-day “World Culture Festival” on the banks of the River Yamuna, the country’s top environment court said that the organisation has tried multiple legal cases “in order not to pay the fine” and that questions the “conduct of the foundation’.
The Art of Living paid Rs 2,500,000 last year and then went back on its commitment. An expert committee had told the NGT in August 2016 that the festival had “completely destroyed” the riverbed.
Hundreds of thousands of devotees attended the event at what was called the world’s largest stage, spreading over seven acres. It was alleged that the permission given to the festival was vague, in excess of the powers vested in the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and not in consonance with the previous orders of the NGT.
Both, the NGT-constituted committee as well as the committee formed by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change had agreed that the event posed great danger to the floodplains.
Environmentalists had accused organisers of destroying vegetation and ruining the fragile ecosystem by damaging its bed and disrupting water flows.
However, the organisers claimed having “left the site in better condition’ that they found it. They will move the Supreme Court to challenge the NGT order.