NEW DELHI, (Diya TV) — India’s National Green Tribunal has fined a group led by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, 50m rupees for its construction of features that altered the topography and flow of a Delhi river before a cultural festival set to take place this weekend.
The environmental watchdog ruled it would allow the procession to take place, led by the Art of Living Foundation, but first, payment of the fine must be received. The group’s leader and founder, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, has refused, and said he would challenge the order in appeals court. “We have done nothing wrong. I will go to jail but not pay the fine,” he said, adding that the foundation would clean the riverbank after the festival.
The order was issued by the tribunal on Wednesday after outcry from environmentalists claimed the roads, ramps and platoon bridges could cause irreversible damage to the Yamuna floodplains. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been tapped to inaugurate the festival on Friday, however, the president’s office said Pranab Mukherjee would not attend the closing ceremony on Sunday. The festival is anticipated to draw crowds in the millions and will feature performances by thousands of musicians and dancers.
The river is a tribute of the Ganges that swells during the monsoon. The body of water does not see much recreational swimming, but Hindus use the river to bathe in during religious festivals — despite its grunge look and foul smell, which officials say is tainted with sewage and industrial pollution. Luckily, the water is treated before being distributed to Delhi’s population of nearly 18 million.