The Art of Living Foundation, which had to pay the Rs 5-crore fine levied by the National Green Tribunal for damaging the Yamuna floodplains during its World Culture Festival in March, has decided to contest the decision and seek a refund.

“We will pay the cash, but fight to get it back and use it for development purposes. We could even go to the Supreme Court,” Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the spiritual head of the foundation, told Firstpost.

The spiritual leader said he was not convinced that the river bank has been damages. Ravi Shankar said he has asked the Union ministry of environment and forests to form an independent panel to sort out the matter. “Let a scientific panel look into the charges," he added.

The Art of Living Foundation paid Rs 25-lakh fine at the time of the event and had promised to pay the rest of the amount later.

The three-day World Culture Festival was organised from March 11. It was held to celebrate the foundation’s 35 years in existence. Nearly 36,000 artistes from around the globe performed there and Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also present. However, environmentalists had accused organisers of damaging vegetation and ruining the river's fragile ecosystem and disrupting water flow.