PM Narendra Modi reaches Ravi Shankar’s event, venue hit by hailstorm

NEW DELHI: Even as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living foundation’s World Culture Festival venue grapples with aftermath of being hit by hailstorm, PM Modi has already reached the event. He is expected to address the audience at 6.00 pm . The event performers have taken shelter from the incessant rains.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday asked Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living (AOL) foundation to pay Rs 25 lakh on Friday and granted three weeks’ time to pay the remaining Rs 4.75 crore of the fine.

If the Art of Living fails to pay up, then the NGT would attach the grant which Culture Ministry is supposed to pay to AOL, it said, adding that the next hearing on the matter would be on April 4. Ravi Shankar said earlier he would rather go to jail than paying the fine on his organisation. “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,” he said. When pressed further whether he would defy rules, Ravi Shankar said “I will abide by rules but I have done nothing wrong.”

With agency inputs.

The MeT has predicted heavy rains today.

Art of Living’s trouble-ridden World Cultural Festival is being held to celebrate the foundation’s 35 years in service.

Nearly 36,000 artistes from around the world will perform on what is possibly the world’s largest stage.

Environmentalist Manoj Misra had, last month, petitioned the Tribunal asking that the World Cultural Festival, being organised by Art of Living, not be allowed to use the floodplains near Mayur Vihar.

Though the festival has come under fire for its ecologically-sensitive venue, it was given the go-ahead by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday. NGT said that the floodplains had been damaged in the preparations for the festival but the Art of Living Foundation has maintained that it hasn’t done anything wrong.

Live updates:

8.11 pm: If we keep criticising ourselves, why would the world look at us, asks PM Modi (ANI)

8.10 pm: This is the Kumbh Mela of culture, PM Modi tells the audience.

8.08 pm: Through Art of Living, the world has got to know about India. I remember a reception by ‘Art of Living’ family in Mongolia, says the PM.

8.05 pm: I want to congratulate Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. His mission has spread all over the world, in various nations: PM

8.03 pm: “India is so diverse and it has so much to contribute to the world.”

8.00 pm: I want to welcome all of you to India, says PM Modi.

7.05 pm: Power is back in the public section of the World Culture Festival after 10 minutes of failure.

7.00 pm: AOL awards the ‘Krishi Ratna Puraskar’ to farmers on the stage.

6.55 pm: More than a 100 people from Pakistan are here, says Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, drawing loud cheers.

6.50 pm: Power failure in the public section at the World Culture Festival, reports our correspondent Shiv Sunny.
6.40 pm: AOL’s founder, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar begins his address.”People from so many countries have gathered to send a message that we are one world family.”

6.15 pm: Delhi Metro will be running extra trains on the Noida line during the festival, reports Siddhartha Roy.

6.10 pm: The PM, who is inaugurating the event, almost didn’t make it. The Central Public Works Department (CPWD) had told the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that the 7-acre stage being constructed for the Art of Living’s ‘World Culture Festival’ was unstable, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi should have another stage.

6.00 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be making an address shortly.

5.50 pm: Performers get ready before the start of the show.

5.40 pm: Heavy rain gives way to sunshine, rainbow.

5.35 pm: People chant ‘Modi Modi’ as Prime Minister & Sri Sri Ravi Shankar arrive at the venue.

5.32 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives at the venue.

5.30 pm: Mild hailstorm at the festival venue; people look out for shelter.

5.26 pm:

5.20 pm: The festival begins with ‘Namaskar’ and ‘Jai Gurudev’, reports our correspondent Shiv Sunny.

4.50 pm: Heavy rain reported at the AOL’s venue. No roof for public, thousands drenched.

4.45 pm:

4.37 pm: AOL’s founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had earlier said that he would not pay the fine but was fine with going to jail if the NGT asks him to.

4.35 pm: The National Green Tribunal had slapped a fine of Rs. 5 crore for violating green norms. In its order, it has noted that the Rs 5 crore is not penalty but an environment compensation

4.30 pm: Several world leaders have skipped the cultural festival, citing “protocol issues.”

4.20 pm:

4.15 pm: Light drizzle begins ahead of AOL’s World Culture Festival in Delhi.