The Ministry of Culture, headed by Mahesh Sharma, had reportedly given Rs 2.25 crore to the Art of Living Foundation for its cultural festival, which is now marred in controversy for flouting environmental norms. According to an NDTV report, the government funding was allotted to the Vyakti Vikas Kendra Trust in Bengaluru, which is run by Art of Living's head Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, as part of the ministry's programme of Financial Assistance to Cultural Organisations.
The report also questioned the need for the government grant, as the trust had declared expenses of Rs 91 crore for the year 2014, and over Rs 100 crore before that, according to its submissions to the ministry. Sanjeev Bhargava, who runs a cultural organisation called SEHER, also told the news channel that the government usually grants no more than Rs 15 lakh-20 lakh for such events.
The National Green Tribunal on Wednesday allowed the Art of Living Foundation to host the festival on the Yamuna floodplains as scheduled from March 11 to 13. However, the green court imposed a fine of Rs 5 crore on the foundation as environment compensation, and asked AOL to provide an undertaking that enzymes won't be released into the Yamuna and there will be no further degradation of the environment.