New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's World Cultural Festival on the Yamuna flood plains on Friday, even as rains lashed the venue, threatening to dampen the celebrations.
Modi addressed the crowd and congratulated Sri Sri for presenting a diverse image of India to the world.
"India is so diverse. It has so much to contribute to the world. India has a cultural legacy that the whole world is looking at. If we keep criticising ourselves, why would the world look at us," Modi said in what seemed like a veiled jibe at those attacking the event.
"I want to congratulate Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. His mission has spread all over the world, in various nations. Through Art of Living, the world has got to know about India. In international relations, soft power plays an important role. This is a Kumbh Mela of art and culture," he added.
Earlier in the day, Art Of Living told the National Green Tribunal that it needs 4 weeks time to deposit Rs 5 crore fine and to comply with all tribunal directions.
“Art of Living it is a charitable organisation and is difficult to generate Rs 5 crore in a short period,” Sri Sri’s team had told NGT.
Art of Living wanted to use the Rs 5 crore penalty towards the creation of a biodiversity park, as ordered by the court earlier this week.
NGT also took strong objection to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's earlier refusal to pay fine, says when a person of that stature makes such statements, it hits rule of law.
The order of the tribunal came on a plea by environmentalactivists seeking stay on AOL's World Cultural Festival here from today to March 13, alleging that they have not deposited Rs 5 crore fine.
The petition has alleged that AOL has not taken mandatory permissions from competent authorities like fire department, police and the Central Public Works Department (CPWD).
During the hearing in the NGT, where CRPF and Delhi police personnel were deployed after some Rashtrawadi Shiv Sena members threatened to hold demonstration, AOL also moved an application seeking four weeks time to deposit the fine and comply with all the directions of the tribunal.
The tribunal also pulled up Ministry of Water Resources for not doing anything to protect river Yamuna from pollution despite directions.
"What have you done? Have you inspected the river? Despite directions you have not checked pollution in the river," the bench said.
During the hearing, a member of Ojaswi Party was also thrown out of the court room for disturbing the proceedings with the NGT issuing a show cause notice to him for contempt of court....