Sri Sri Ravishankar's Art of Living (AOL) Foundation submitted an 'environmental compensation' of Rs 4.75 crore on Friday. The move came after several rounds of court hearings in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) against defiant posturing by the spiritual guru.
The international NGO has also called for a media briefing on Monday, where environmental and legal experts will address journalists on the controversy. A statement issued by the AOL foundation states: "We have deposited the compensation amount of Rs 4.75 crore without prejudice to the DDA account through a demand draft on June 3."
JP Agarwal, principal commissioner of Delhi Development Authority (DDA), confirmed the statement, saying, "Yes, we have received it. It is good see AOL abiding by the law. This amount shall be used for the betterment of the environment and that of the Yamuna river."
NGT had imposed a fine on AOL foundation - for damaging the Yamuna floodplains by hosting its World Culture Festival from March 11-13 - with a deadline set for Saturday.
A bench headed by Chair person, Justice Swatanter Kumar had also recently criticised the AOL for not paying up, terming it as a "willful violation" of its undertakings.
The court also slammed it, saying a corporate entity cannot be used to promote irregularities. The court further said it would lift its 'corporate veil' and get to Chairthe 'real substance' of the matter while examining the case to ascertain the truth. Lawyer for the petitioner, Rahul Choudhary, said: "Ideally, this amount was supposed to come three months ago, by March 10."
Rs 5 crore is the interim 'compensation,' precondition to which the function was given a go-ahead, a day before it was to commence. A scientific committee had, in fact, recommended a fine of Rs 100-Rs 120 crore after they unearthed substantial proof hinting at a large-scale damage to Yamuna.
A follow-up inspection of the river site by the panel, including Secretary of Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR), Shashi Shekhar, Professor C R Babu, Professor A K Gosain, Professor Brij Gopal, is due. Two more experts would be added to the panel following an AOL application to NGT expressing fears that the existing panel might be biased.