Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat on Tuesday dismissed environmental concerns raised about the weddings of the sons of the South Africa-based Gupta brothers in the hill town of Auli this week, PTI reported. The controversial NRI business family is reportedly expected to spend around Rs 200 crore on the weddings.
The Uttarakhand High Court on Tuesday asked the family to deposit Rs 3 crore with the Chamoli district magistrate as security money on account of the possible environment damage during the events, the Hindustan Times reported. On Monday, the court had said that the state government’s permission for the wedding will set the wrong precedent, according to News18.
The Gupta brothers – Ajay, Atul and Rajesh – are Indian expatriate businessmen who have been controversial in South Africa because of their links to ousted President Jacob Zuma. They have often been accused of influencing government business and appointments, allegations that they deny.
The wedding of Ajay Gupta’s son Suryakant is taking place from June 18 to June 20, and that of Atul Gupta’s son Shashank is scheduled from June 20 to June 22. Dozens of Bollywood stars are likely to attend the weddings.
Rawat told reporters that the events would help promote the state as a wedding destination. Auli is not a meadow or a bugyal, and so, the fears about ecological harms are unnecessary, he was quoted as saying.
“It is a category one land where tourists keep coming all the year round,” he said. “There are Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam hotels in Auli and no unnecessary issue should be created out of the proposed weddings.”
Rawat said that he had told businessmen at an investors’ summit last year that weddings could be held in the Himalayan state instead of abroad.
Meanwhile, the state’s High Court said the district administration can take action against the Gupta brothers if they do not pay Rs 3 crore – half by June 19 and the rest by June 21. The division bench of Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma was hearing a petition alleging that the wedding preparations were damaging the environment in Auli.
The court ordered that no firecrackers should be burst during the wedding and also issued curbs on noise levels.