Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, whose cultural event on the floodplains of Yamuna is mired in controversy over violation of green norms, today once again sounded defiant, saying he will not pay any fine or penalty.
But, he said, he would wholeheartedly support the “developmement and restoration” of the venue where the event is being held.
Addressing the event on the second day, Ravi Shankar said the amount the National Green Tribunal had asked the AOL to pay was for restoration and not as a penalty.
“All through, I have lived a spotless life. I have never been late to school. I have never paid fine, even of a single paisa. So, we said we will not pay any fine. But then I was told that this is not a fine or penalty. It was wrongly reported in newspapers.
“They said it was for the development here. We said, if this is for development and restoration, then we will whole-heartedly support this and put everything into this,” Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said.
The NGT had on Wednesday allowed Art of Living Foundation to hold the festival but asked it to pay Rs 5 crore as environmental compensation for ecological damage.
However, yesterday the relief to the AOL Foundation came with a stinker from the green panel which took strong exception to Ravi Shankar’s remarks about refusal to pay Rs 5 crore and instead saying he would prefer to go to jail.
“When a man of his stature makes such statements, it hits the very rule of law. If anybody hurts the image of the tribunal, he will be taken to rule of law. Don’t treat tribunal as subject to your controversy with regard to the event,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Swatanter Kumar said, while directing AOL to pay Rs 25 lakh immediately after the organisation expressed difficulty in arranging Rs 5 crore in such a short period.
A spokesman for AOL Foundation today said the organisation has already deposited Rs 25 lakh.
The event got embroiled in a controversy after environmentalists alleged that its preparations have damaged the ecology of Yamuna floodplains and demanded that the event be cancelled.