New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday said that if the Art of Living (AOL) foundation doesn't pay the penalty of Rs 5 crores to the Delhi Development Authority by tomorrow, it could revoke clearance for the three-day World Culture Festival. "Art of Living has time till tomorrow to pay Rs 5 crore fine and if there is any breach, law will take its own course," the tribunal said.
The green tribunal also asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to issue a proper direction to the AOL with regard to disposal of municipal waste.
NGT, meanwhile, refused to give an urgent hearing to a fresh plea seeking stay on the event on the ground that it did not have the requisite permission from fire authorities and police.
Earlier in the day, Ravi Shankar told a news channel that he would rather go to jail than pay the fine imposed by NGT. “We have not done anything wrong… we will go to jail but not pay a penny,” said the spiritual leader.
The NGT on Wednesday gave its consent for the event, but imposed a penalty of Rs 5 crores on the Art of Living Foundation for damaging the environment.
A bench headed by NGT chairperson Swantanter Kumar on Wednesday asked the Ministry of Environment and Forests to file an affidavit and spell out why no environmental clearance is needed for raising temporary structures.
“For the reason of delay and lapses on the part of the applicant in approaching the Tribunal, and for the reason of fait accompli capable of restoration and restitution, we are unable to grant prayer of prohibitory order,” the bench observed.
“As per documents placed on record it is evident that flood plains have been drastically tampered with and ramps, roads, compaction of earth, pontoon bridges and other semi-permanent or temporary structures were constructed without the requisite permission of the concerned authorities, including ministry of water resources,” it added.
The direction came after the counsel appearing for the Ministry of Environment and Forests said that they have found no debris when an expert team visited the site. The counsel added that as per Environment Impact Assessment notification 2006, no environment clearance is needed for temporary structures.
The AOL had earlier announced later that it would appeal against the NGT order as its chief, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, tweeted that “he was not satisfied with the verdict”.
Warning the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and Delhi Pollution Control Committee to not issue such orders in future, a fine of Rs 5 lakh and Rs 1 lakh, respectively, was slapped on the civic bodies for failing to perform their “statutory functions”.
Earlier, President Pranab Mukherjee cancelled his plan to attend Sunday’s valedictory session....