Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Says He Won't Pay 5 Crore Fine For AOL Event On The Yamuna

10/03/2016 4:20 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
Hindustan Times via Getty Images
NEW DELHI, INDIA - MARCH 1: Spiritual guru and founder of the Art of Living Foundation Sri Sri Ravi Shankar during an interview on March 1, 2016 in New Delhi, India. The Art of Living Foundation is organizing World Culture Festival on the banks of Yamuna in the second week of March. The festival intends to host millions of guests from 155 countries, apart from India. The Art of Living Foundation has been fined Rs. 120 crore National Green Tribunal. (Photo by Ravi Choudhary/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

NEW DELHI -- A day after the National Green Tribunal slapped a Rs5 crore fine on his Art of Living Foundation for damage to the Yamuna floodplains while organizing the mammoth World Culture Festival, founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said his organization won't be paying the fine even if it means his going to jail.

Shankar was supposed to pay his fine by 4:00 pm today, but the NGT has extended the deadline till Friday. The three-day event, which is expected to attract over three million people, will also kickoff on Friday.

The spiritual leader said he won't pay the Rs5 crore fine because "we have not done anything wrong".

"We have been taintless and will remain so. We will go to jail but not pay a penny," Shankar said, reported Press Trust of India .

"Not a single tree was felled. Trees were only pruned and we levelled the floodplain," he said.

While allowing the three-day event to go ahead, the National Green Tribunal on Wednesday made it clear that the event organizers were not forthcoming about their plans.

The NGT also slammed the Delhi Development Authority and the Union Environment Ministry for ignoring the damage done to the Yamuna River, and rued that environmentalists were a bit too late in creating a furore.

"Flood plains have been drastically tampered with, the natural flow of the river has been destroyed and reeds, grasses and natural vegetation on the river bed have been removed," the NGT said, NDTV reported.

The NGT imposed a fine of Rs.5 crore on Shankar, and asked him to pay for the restoration of the damage to the flood plains of the Yamuna River. The DDA was fined Rs.5 lakh.

Amid the hue and cry raised by environmentalists about the damage done to the Yamuna River and the ecology around it, President Pranab Mukherjee has said that he will not attend the World Culture Festival

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the event.

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