Economy

No relief for Art of Living as green tribunal orders immediate payment of fine

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on May 31, 2016

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Rejects Foundation’s plea to provide bank guarantee for the ₹4.75 crore due

The National Green Tribunal’s principal committee, which was asked to determine the environmental damage done to the banks of Yamuna river due to the World Culture Festival hosted by Art of Living, will visit the site on June 7, almost three months after the event took place between March 11 and 13.

The Tribunal, on Tuesday, heard a plea by Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living (AOL) Foundation, to pay the compensation amount slapped on it by the green court in the form of a bank guarantee. On March 11, the Foundation had been given three weeks time to pay ₹4.75 crore, after it paid an initial ₹25 lakh.

Further fine

The court, however, rejected the plea, and slapped a further fine of ₹5,000 on the Foundation for filing an application that lacked merit. The full amount will now have to be paid directly to the Delhi Development Authority, the Bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar, said.

“The court has come down heavily on them (the Foundation) and has also pulled them up for engaging in multiplicity of litigations to avoid paying the compensation,” said Ritwick Dutta, advocate for the petitioners.

Further, the Foundation would also be required to pay additional compensation if decided so by the principal committee, which would submit its report before the next date of hearing on July 4.

Committee ‘biased’

The Art of Living Foundation had challenged the constitution of the current committee, which was the same one that conducted the original assessment before the event, claiming that it was “biased” in the matter. This application, too, was not accepted by the court.

The Art of Living Foundation, meanwhile, has called the order to pay compensation “unjust” and, in a statement, said it would go to the Supreme Court, if needed.

“We don’t agree with the observations of the Tribunal. The Art of Living has neither polluted air, water or earth. We have left the WCF site in a better condition than what we had got. We have an extensive repertoire for environment work and find these allegations unacceptable,” the AOL statement read.

Despite claiming cash crunch earlier, the Foundation in its statement said it’s defaulting on the order to pay compensation was not due to lack of funds.

“We were ready and willing to give a bank guarantee which served the purpose but our application has been wrongly dismissed. We will test the legality and see how we can correct the judgment,” the statement said.

Published on May 31, 2016
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