AoL to go ahead with fest, tribunal hearing today

AoL to go ahead with fest, tribunal hearing today

AoL to go ahead with fest, tribunal hearing today
The Art of Living Foundation(AoL) is all set to go ahead with its World Cultural Festival, even as the National Green Tribunal (NGT) will hear on Friday a plea raising non-payment of Rs 5 crore fine by the organiser.

The hearing is scheduled for 4 pm, just an hour before the mega event begins on the floodplains of the River Yamuna. Spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Thursday categorically refused to pay even a “penny” of the fine amount imposed on the AoLF by the Green Court in its order on Wednesday, even as the Tribunal agreed to a plea to hear the matter in open court on Friday.

"They still have time till tomorrow (Friday) to deposit Rs 5 crore fine. 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," the Green Court held, fixing the hearing of the matter at 4 PM on Friday.

SC quashes petition

Meanwhile, a petition was moved by Bhartiya Kishan Majdoor Samiti (BKMS) in the Supreme Court seeking a bar on the mega festival, but the apex court refused the plea, observing: "This preparation is going on for a long time. Why have you come now? Why don't you go to the NGT?"

The apex court bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur also questioned the motive behind the BKMS petition, remarking, "So you seek publicity out of it?" The AoLF is scheduled to begin its three-day cultural festival at 5 pm on Friday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the event, according to the schedule prepared by the organisers and an advisory issued by the government to media for the coverage of the programme.

"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," Ravi Shankar, who had expressed dissatisfaction about the NGT order on Wednesday, told reporters.

Earlier, the NGT refused an urgent hearing of a fresh plea seeking a stay on the three-day event. "There is no urgency in it. You (petitioner) can 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 as per the law." it noted.

The Green Court directed the Central Pollution Control Board and Ministry of Environment and Forests to issue directive to the organisers for proper disposal of municipal solid waste and provision of drinking water. The DPCC assured the Tibunal of complying with its directive, saying a committee was already scheduled to visit the venue of the programme.

The cultural festival will begin with Vedic chanting by as many as 1000 Sanskrit scholars. While the event will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister and former Chief Justice of India R C Lahoti, Ravi Shankar will deliver the welcome address. He will also address the inaugural session, which will feature as many as 8,500 musicians playing 40 different instruments together and a spectacular performance of Kathak dance by 1000 artistes from different gharanas, choreographed by Padma Vibhushan Birju Maharaj.


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