NGT grants Art of Living 3 weeks to pay up

The Art of Living Foundation was afforded three week’s grace time to pay the compensation amount fixed by the The National Green Tribunal (NGT)
NGT grants Art of Living 3 weeks to pay up
Workers getting the props ready for the three-day World Culture Festival

New Delhi

It asked the Foundation to pay Rs 25 lakh on Friday as first instalment  and granted it three weeks’ time for the remaining Rs 4.75 crore it ordered the foundation to pay on Thursday. The NGT clarified that the sum was an environmental compensation and not a penalty imposed on the foundation. 
It also said Rs 2.5 crore sanctioned by the Central government would be attached, should the foundation fail to pay Rs 25 lakh immediately. 
However, the tribunal took exception to founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s refusal to the pay the sum. “When a person of that stature makes such statements, it hits the rule of law. If anybody hurts the image of the tribunal, he will be taken to rule of law,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said. 
Meanwhile the issue rocked the Rajya Sabha yesterday. As soon as the Zero Hour began, JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav raised the issue saying Sri Sri Ravishankar has challenged the NGT order and announced he would not pay the fine. 
“This is a serious matter. He should be sent to jail,” Yadav said. He also added about 35 lakh people are expected to gather to attend the 3-day World Culture Festival and raised concerns over their safety. 
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, members from Congress, Left and SP also associated themselves with the issue raised by the senior JD(U) leader. 
Former Environment Minister and Congress member Jairam Ramesh said the festival would lead to “complete ecological destruction” of the Yamuna flood plains as in case of the Akshardham temple and the Common Wealth Games (CWG) and now the cultural fest. 
However, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said it is a cultural programme and the Prime Minister would be attending it. “I will also go. You should also go,” he said. 
A multi-layer security blanket was thrown over the Yamuna floodplains here today with 12,000 police officials being deployed for the three-day World Culture Festival.  Prime Minister Modi is attending it.

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