The Art of Living Foundation is a volunteer-based, humanitarian and educational non-governmental organizations (NGO). It was founded in 1981 by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. The Art of Living Foundation is spread over 156 countries and is considered the world's largest volunteer-based NGO.
The three-day World Peace Festival is organized by the Art of Living Foundation in March 2016. The event was heavily advertised and has triggered controversy even before the start of the festival. The event will include lectures and mass meditation sessions. Amid the controversy, President Pranab Mukherjee who had agreed to attend the event earlier, has canceled.
The Government of Delhi, on March 8, said that neither fire safety clearances nor police permission have been sanctioned so far for the event.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT), on March 8, has asked the Union Environment Ministry whether it had taken any steps to prevent damage to the fragile ecosystem of the venue of the banks of River Yamuna in Delhi. The Tribunal asked the Art of Living Foundation whether it carried out a survey to assess possible environmental damage.
The NGT has fined Rs. five crore in initial environmental compensation to the Art of Foundation and gave a go-ahead to the World Culture Festival. It has given time 11 March. Meanwhile, Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said he would rather go to jail than pay the fine. Arguing that he had not violated any rule, he said he was not liable to pay any penalty. The foundation is likely to challenge the tribunal's order in the Supreme Court.