Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says he'll go to jail, but won't pay Rs 5 lakh fine

Sri Sri says he is ready to go to jail but won’t pay a penny of the Rs 5-crore fine levied on his foundation for hosting the three-day World Culture Festival on Yamuna floodplains

New Delhi: The Art of Living (AoL) founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar yesterday sounded defiant saying he would rather go to jail than pay the fine imposed on his organisation by the NGT for environmental violations over a cultural extravaganza on the floodplains of Yamuna.

Workers lay astro turf at the AoL event venue on Yamuna floodplains; (below) Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Pic/PTI
Workers lay astro turf at the AoL event venue on Yamuna floodplains; (below) Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Pic/PTI

“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.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

On Wednesday, the Tribunal had imposed Rs 5-crore fine on AoL as environmental compensation while clearing the decks for its three-day festival starting today. Following this decision, Sri Sri tweeted that AOL was not ‘satisfied’ with the verdict and would appeal against it.

He also urged political parties not to ‘politicise’ the event and even denied that any tree at the venue was felled. Sri Sri asserted that the trees had only been pruned and all they had done was level the floodplain. “Not a single tree was cut. Trees were only pruned and we levelled the floodplain,” he said.

Pay by today: NGT
NGT yesterday made it clear to AoL that it has time till today to pay R5-crore fine and law will take its own course if it fails to do so. “They still have time till tomorrow to deposit R5-cr fine as compensation in compliance with the directions of the tribunal. If there is any breach of any condition, the matter will be taken up as and when required and law will take its own course,” NGT chairp-erson Swatantar Kumar said.

'Why have you come now?'
The Supreme Court yesterday refused to entertain a plea seeking its stay on the three-day event. A bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur asked Bhartiya Kishan Majdoor Samiti to approach the National Green Tribunal (NGT) with its plea. “This preparation is going on for a long time. Why have you come now? Why don’t you go to the NGT,” the bench said. It also raised apprehension on the motive of filing such a petition at the eleventh hour, saying, “So you seek publicity out of it?”

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