New Delhi: The Art of Living (AOL) Foundation on Friday told the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that it will not be able to submit the fine of Rs 5 crores, imposed on it for organising the World Culture Festival on the flood plain of river Yamuna, by 5 pm today.
Moving an application before the NGT, the AOL said it requires at least four weeks' time to deposit the fine and to comply with all tribunal directions.
PTI reported that the AOL said in the application it is a charitable organisation and that it is difficult for it to generate Rs 5 crores in a short period.
The organisation further asked the tribunal to take Rs 5 crore fine as restoration amount for a biodiversity park on the Yamuna river flood plain and not as penalty.
It also informed the NGT that it has the requisite permission from the fire department to hold the event.
Meanwhile, the NGT took a strong exception to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's remarks made yesterday that he will not pay the fine and was ready to go to jail.
“Is it correct you made a statement that you will not pay the Rs 5 crore fine and rather go to jail?” NGT asked
“Do not make the tribunal a subject of controversy,” it said, warning the AOL.
“When a person of that stature makes such statements, it hits rule of law,” the tribunal said.
The NGT had imposed the fine on AOL on Wednesday while giving it the permission to hold the mega festival on the Yamuna flood plain.
On Thursday morning, the NGT had said that if the AOL fails to submit the fine of Rs 5 crore with the Delhi Development Authority by 4 pm, it may cancel the permission.
However, the tribunal, in the evening, extended the deadline for AOL to pay the fine till 5 pm today.
It may be noted that the event will kick-off at 5 pm today with Prime Minister Narendra Modi attending the inauguration.
Meanwhile, the NGT also asked the Centre and the AOL if Rs 2.5 crore grant has been released to the foundation by Culture Ministry.
Further, the tribunal pulled up the Ministry of Water Resources for not doing anything to protect Yamuna from pollution despite several directions.
Separately, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh also spoke on the AOL event today, saying, “There is no controversy. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is known for resolving controversial issues.”
Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu also tweeted, “World Culture Festival by Art of Living will bring glory to India. let's not politicise this (sic).”
Also today, the NGT agreed to hear on an urgent basis a plea by environmentalists seeking stay of the AOL's World Cultural Festival alleging they have not deposited the Rs 5 crore fine.
Meanwhile, CRPF and Delhi Police personnel have been deployed outside the NGT court complex after Rashtrawadi Shiv Sena gave a threat to hold a demonstration there.