The National Green Tribunal today rejected the plea of Art of Living (AOL) that it be not forced to pay an environment compensation of Rs 4.75 crore in cash instead of bank guarantee.
It also slapped a fine of Rs 5,000 on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s AOL for filing such an application which “lacks bonafide” and directed it to pay in a week the the remainder of the costs imposed on it for damaging Yamuna’s biodiversity.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar rapped the AOL foundation for not depositing the amount despite assurance granted to the tribunal.
During the hearing, the AOL foundation alleged that various media houses have tried to “tarnish” the reputation of the foundation by wrongly mentioning the environment compensation imposed on it as “penalty” or “fine” thus bringing AOL in bad light.
To this the bench said,”First discharge your obligations and then make allegations. You (AOL) always try to create a way out. One of your trustees made a statement before us that the foundation would deposit the amount in three weeks and now you want extension of time. This is totally unacceptable.
“We had asked expert committee to visit your site on Yamuna floodplains. Now, you have moved an application alleging bias. You cannot making allegations and accusations against everybody and anybody,” the bench said.
Meanwhile, the foundation reacted to the tribunal’s order saying it was “unjust” and may appeal against it.
“Art of Living had moved an application for furnishing a bank guarantee of the balance compensation amount which has been dismissed by the NGT.
“We find the verdict unjust and, if need be, after reviewing the order we will go to the Supreme Court. We have not violated any law or done any wrong,” the organisation said in a release.
The green panel on March 9 had refused to prohibit the three-days ‘World Culture Festival’, held by AOL between March 11 and 13, but slapped a fine of Rs 5 crore on the foundation for damaging biodiversity and aquatic life of Yamuna.
Later on March 11, AOL had 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.