NGT rejects Art of Living's plea to pay compensation by bank guarantee

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Tuesday rejected Art of Living’s (AOL) plea to pay compensation by bank guarantee for violation of environment norms during a cultural event organised in March this year, reports ANI.

The organisation must now pay nearly five crores as a fine, the country's top environment court said on Tuesday.

Art of Living "used the order of the court to hold the event and then went back on its commitment," the NGT said on Tuesday. The court also added that the organisers tried multiple legal cases "in order not to pay the fine" as a result of which the "conduct of the foundation has been called into question," reports NDTV.

File photo of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Reuters

File photo of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Reuters

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living had moved the National Green Tribunal in early April seeking its nod to accept the fine, slapped for allegedly damaging Yamuna's biodiversity, as bank guarantee instead of "payment of balance amount".

The green panel on 9 March had refused to prohibit the 'World Culture Festival' held between 11 and 13 March but slapped a fine of Rs five crore on his Art of Living foundation for damaging biodiversity and aquatic life of Yamuna.

Later on 11 March, AOL 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.

"The applicant submits that the present application is being filed for modification of the order dated 9 and 11 March to allow for submission for security by way of a bank guarantee in lieu of payment of balance amount as directed.

"The applicant is in the process of preparing proposal laying down process/methodology for collection of scientific data/evidence regarding assessment of actual environmental damage, if any, and hopes to persuade that the damage is neither permanent nor irreversible but, in fact, remediable and respectfully seeks an opportunity to demonstrate that the allegations levelled against it are completely without foundation and the reports submitted by expert committees which form the basis of previous orders were predominantly based on visual examination of the site rather than a detailed scientific assessment which, in any event, was not possible due to paucity of time," the plea said.

AOL has also sought to submit a proposal for laying down methodology for collection of scientific data regarding assessment of actual environmental damage and requested the tribunal to grant 45 days for the same.

Recently, Manoj Mishra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan filed a review plea challenging the NGT order which had dismissed his petition on the ground of "delay and lapses on the part of the applicant in approaching the tribunal".

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: May 31, 2016 12:17:21 IST