New Delhi: In the midst of a raging controversy over Art of Living's mega cultural event on the Yamuna banks in the national capital from March 11-13, Sri Sri Ravishankar has said that he would prefer going to jail but will not pay the Rs 5 crore penalty imposed on the organisation by the National Green Tribunal.
His comments come at a time when the NGT today provided a day's relief to Art of Living (AoL) for paying the Rs 5 crore penalty imposed by the green body over environmental degradation. The AoL now has until 5 pm tomorrow to pay the fine to the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), failing which the green panel may take a more stringent approach, it warned.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has put to rest doubts over his attending the event. An official release by the Prime Minister's Office today confirmed PM Modi's participation in the cultural event. The PM will be addressing a gathering at the event at 6.10 pm tomorrow, the release said.The confirmation over the PM's attendance follows concerns over the safety at the venue and the President Pranab Mukherjee withdrawing from his agreed programme to attend the cultural extravaganza.
Earlier, the NGT accorded a stern warning to the AoL over the payment of penalty saying it may even revoke its go-ahead for the event in the capital, if the organisers failed to pay the Rs 5 crore fine before 4 PM Thursday.
The Green Panel today asked if the DDA had received the stipulated amount or not. "We can cancel our orders if they fail to pay the amount within given time," the panel had said.
The Tribunal has imposed a fine of Rs five crore on AOL as environmental compensation after coming down heavily on the foundation for not disclosing its full plans. The green bench also criticised the DDA and Environment Ministry for their role.
National Green Tribunal, however, gave its go ahead to the event to be held on the Yamuna floodplains from March 11, expressing its helplessness in banning it because of "fait accompli".
The Art of Living Foundation on Wednesday said it will challenge the order of the National Green Tribunal imposing a fine of Rs five crore on it as environmental compensation while clearing the decks for its three-day cultural extravaganza.
The organisation's chief Sri Sri Ravi Shankar also tweeted that AOL was not "satisfied" with the verdict of the NGT and would appeal against it. He urged political parties not to "politicise" the event.
The temporary construction at the venue -which includes a 7-acre stage and pontoon or floating bridges over the river - will combine with lakhs of attendees to irreversibly corrode the fragile ecosystem of the area, activists had alleged in court.
Sri Sri denied this, and said that though his volunteers may, after the event, create a biodiversity park on the floodplains, "It will be because we want to -not because it is part of the court order."