Municipality officials in Joshimath in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district have fined South African businessmen Ajay Gupta and Atul Gupta Rs 2.5 lakh for leaving a huge amount of waste in the hill town of Auli, where their sons got married last week, IANS reported.

“We have imposed a fine of Rs. 2.5 lakh on the Gupta brothers,” said SP Nautiyal, executive officer of the Joshimath municipality. On June 18, the Uttarakhand High Court had 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.

While Rs 1 lakh fine was levied for defecating in the open, Rs. 1.5-lakh penalty was levied for scattering garbage in the area. The civic body has sent a copy of the challan to the event management company that organised the weddings, Nautiyal added. The municipality is also preparing a Rs 8.14-lakh bill for collecting the garbage. The Gupta brothers have already deposited Rs 5.54 lakh with the municipality.

Till now, the Joshimath municipality has collected 306 quintals of garbage from the venue of the weddings, using three to four trucks daily to collect the waste.

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 Gupta took place from June 18 to June 20, and Atul Gupta’s son Shashank Gupta’s wedding was held from June 20 to June 22.

On Friday, an inspection team set up by Chamoli District Magistrate Swati S Bhadouriya carried out an inspection in Auli to determine if ecological damage had occurred, The Economic Times reported. A report, along with video recordings and photographs of the events, will be presented to the High Court on July 7. The following day, the court will hear the case case for refunding Rs 3-crore security money deposited by the Gupta brothers with the district administration.

Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat had dismissed theecological concerns surrounding the weddings, calling them unjustified. He had said Auli could be developed as a big tourist destination after the events.

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