After strict deadline by NGT, Sri Sri Ravishankar’s AOL deposited fine of Rs. 4.75crore

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Tuesday rejected Art of Living’s (AOL) plea to pay compensation by bank guarantee for violation of environment norms during a cultural event organised in March this year. While the NGT had earlier allowed the Art of Living Foundation (AOL) to hold the three-day “World Culture Festival” on the banks of the river Yamuna, it had imposed the condition that it would pay a fine of Rs.5 crore penalty for damage to the ecosystem of the river and its banks. The festival was held from March 11 to March 13. AOL had paid Rs.25 lakh and had promised to pay the remaining fees later.

The green panel on 9 March had refused to prohibit the ‘World Culture Festival’ held between 11 and 13 March but slapped a fine of Rs five crore on his Art of Living foundation for damaging biodiversity and aquatic life of Yamuna. Later on 11 March, AOL moved a plea seeking four weeks time for depositing the amount after which the tribunal allowed the foundation to deposit Rs 25 lakh on that day and granted three weeks time period to pay the balance amount.

“The applicant submits that the present application is being filed for modification of the order dated 9 and 11 March to allow for submission for security by way of a bank guarantee in lieu of payment of balance amount as directed. “The applicant is in the process of preparing proposal laying down process/methodology for collection of scientific data/evidence regarding assessment of actual environmental damage, if any, and hopes to persuade that the damage is neither permanent nor irreversible but, in fact, remediable and respectfully seeks an opportunity to demonstrate that the allegations levelled against it are completely without foundation and the reports submitted by expert committees which form the basis of previous orders were predominantly based on visual examination of the site rather than a detailed scientific assessment which, in any event, was not possible due to paucity of time,” the plea said.

AOL has also sought to submit a proposal for laying down methodology for collection of scientific data regarding assessment of actual environmental damage and requested the tribunal to grant 45 days for the same. Recently, Manoj Mishra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan filed a review plea challenging the NGT order which had dismissed his petition on the ground of “delay and lapses on the part of the applicant in approaching the tribunal”.

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