NEW DELHI: Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has decided to say “no” to an environmental fine and “yes” to jail.No, he won’t pony up the Rs 5 crores fine imposed on him yesterday to pay for the environmental damage that has been and will be done to the venue of his World Culture Festival. Yes, he’s prepared to go to jail for not paying the fine.
Incidentally, Art of Living has spent upwards of Rs 26 crores on its extravaganza.
“We have not done anything wrong. We have been taintless and will remain so. We we will go to jail but not pay a penny,” said Ravi Shankar.
Today PM Narendra Modi set aside any doubts about his participation, saying he plans to attend Sri Sri’s event.
The Art of Living’s three-day World Culture Festival is to be held on the ecologically-sensitive banks of the Yamuna river and will start tomorrow. The national Green Tribunal (NGT) yesterday fined Sri Sri’s Foundation and several governmental bodies for negligence.
The NGT told Ravi Shankar’s foundation that it has until Friday to pay the fine. The tribunal noted that if the foundation didn’t pay the fine by tomorrow, the law will take its course.
Ravi Shankar also tweeted that his foundation is not “satisfied” with the NGT’s verdict would appeal it. He also urged political parties not to “politicise” the event.
“Not a single tree was felled. Trees were only pruned and we levelled the floodplain,” he said today.
“This is like a Cultural Olympics. 37,000 artistes from all over the world would come together at one single platform. This is an event to bring people closer to each other. Event of this magnitude should be welcomed,” he told NDTV.
Notwithstanding the row over the environmental damage due to the three-day festival, the NGT yesterday gave its go ahead to the event, expressing its helplessness in banning it because it was a “fait accompli” for the Art of Living Foundation.
(With inputs from PTI)