Fresh plea against Art of living event rejected

The National Green Tribunal (NGT), on Thursday, refused to give an urgent hearing to a fresh plea seeking a stay on the World Culture Festival organised by the Art of Living Foundation.

The event will be held from March 11 to 13 on the eastern floodplains of the Yamuna - and has attracted criticism from green activists who claim that the construction for the festival is causing major damage to the ecology in the area.

Read more from our special coverage on "NATIONAL GREEN TRIBUNAL"

The tribunal, on Wednesday, ordered the Art of Living Foundation (AOL) to pay a initial fine of Rs 5 crore for damaging the biodiversity of the area.

It had, however, not cancelled the event citing the late date at which the case had been brought to its notice. The tribunal had also said there was "reason of fait accompli capable of restoration and restitution".

Spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who heads the AOL, has said he would appeal against the decision of the green tribunal. "We have not done anything wrong... we will go to jail but not pay a penny," he said in a television interview.

After the original applicants filed a fresh plea on Thursday, alleging that the AOL had not taken permissions from the competent authority as directed by the tribunal earlier, the court observed there was no need for urgency.

"File a proper application and point out the deficiencies in compliance with the directions of the tribunal. We will see if there is any breach or not as per the law," NGT Chairperson Swatanter Kumar said.

After the applicants pointed out that no fine had been deposited by the organisers yet, the court said it could be deposited any time before the event starts.

"The event starts on Friday evening but the NGT will close for the day before then." said Rahul Chowdhury, counsel for the applicants. He added yet another fresh plea may be filed with the court on Friday.

In its ruling, the court had also directed the Central Pollution Control Board, Delhi Pollution Control Committee and the environment ministry to inspect the site by Thursday and issue proper directions to the organisers of the event with regard to the disposal of municipal solid waste and drinking water.

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