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Not satisfied with using their top government connections to land their wedding guests at the Waterkloof Air Force Base six years ago, the Gupta brothers, now celebrating a double wedding of each of their sons, have again pulled strings – this time summiting new heights. The wedding is to take place near the town of Auli, an ecologically sensitive part of the northern Himalayas, known for its spectacular mountain vistas and unspoilt beauty. Unlike the compliant South Africa officials who bent the rules for the Guptas’ commercial jet to land at a military air force base (after OR Tambo International Airport turned them down), the Indian local authorities have put up a comparatively fierce fight. This comes in the form of a non-refundable fine equivalent to R5.8m for likely pollution (noise, litter and smoke) that the tent town being erected for the week long celebration by 400 guests might cause. Traditional Indian weddings are known for their fireworks which may now be toned down, given the publicity the latest outlandish celebrations have generated. Apparently, the local authorities have sent two pollution control board officers to monitor the occasion, after a Kashipur resident filed a complaint in the high court. The local town fathers claim that had they known a week earlier, they would have put a stop to such nonsense. The Guptas reportedly chose the ecologically sensitive northern Indian state over Italy because they wanted to promote the Himalayan state as a wedding venue. Their social conscience and concern for the rural poor obviously knows no bounds. One wonders whether they’re hoping to turn the Indian province into one of milk and honey. They’d need to set up a few dairies first… The SABC report below is a must watch. – Chris Bateman
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