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Sri Sri event row: Centre assures damage control in case of harm to environment


New Delhi : Admitting that a large scale event as World Cultural Festival organised by the Art of Living foundation could have an impact on the environment, Minister of State for Tourism Mahesh Sharma on Friday said that a solution can always be procured if such a problem crops up.

“India’s strength lies in its diverse culture and we want to take that to the corners of the world which is why this event is so helpful. So, there should be no debates on it. Yes, there can be issues on the location and the impact it can have on the environment but there are always solutions to such things,” Sharma told ANI.

Asserting that the event must go on in any circumstance, he said that the location of the event was a matter for the law and order to be concerned with and added that the proceedings in the case must go on uninterrupted.

“In no case must anyone raise objections towards the intent of the function but some people are still politicising the event. I completely support the concern towards the environment but I also back such events, which promote the cultural diversity of the country,” Sharma said.

Meanwhile, the Art of Living told the tribunal that it can deposit Rs. 25 lakhs today and the balance amount within three weeks to which the NGT accepted.

The NGT also told the foundation that if anybody hurts the image of the tribunal, they would take it to a logical conclusion as per rule of law.

A day after the NGT set a deadline for the Art of Living to pay a fine of Rs. five crore over the organisation of World Cultural Festival, the NGT extended the deadline till Friday.

Earlier the NGT had set a strict deadline for the Art of Living to pay the fine by Thursday evening. However, since the organisation failed to do so, the deadline was extended.

The Art of Living (AOL) foundation conveyed to the NGT today that it needs a month’s time to pay the five-crore penalty, as it was a charitable organisation.

However, the NGT expressed its displeasure over the spiritual guru’s statement that he ‘will go to prison but not pay the fine’ and said such a statement was not expected from a person with such high stature.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had earlier said that he would rather go to jail than pay the fine imposed by NGT for environmental violations on the floodplains due to massive constructions. He had also said that AOL was not “satisfied” with the verdict of the NGT and would appeal against it. (ANI)

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