Says should have never approved event if Yamuna was ‘so fragile, pure’.
New Delhi: Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said on Tuesday that government authorities and the NGT should have never given him permission to hold the ‘World Cultural Festival’ on the Yamuna river bed if the river was “so fragile and pure.”
Blaming both the Delhi and Central government, and the green panel, the spiritual figure said that that they should be held responsible if any environmental damage was caused and that the fine should be levied on them.
His remarks come days after an expert committee set up by the NGT pointed out that the event adversely affected the river bed and that it will take a decade for the ecological rehabilitation of the Yamuna floodplains and Rs 42.02 crore.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Mr Ravi Shankar said the Art of Living (AoL) obtained all the necessary permissions including NGT’s.
“The NGT had the application file for two months and they could have stopped it in the beginning. It defies all principles of natural justice that you give permissions and slap a fine for not violating any rules,” he said. “If the Yamuna was so fragile and pure, they should have stopped the World Culture Festival at the very beginning. A historic programme, deserving of applause and appreciation, is unjustly projec-ted as a crime,” he added.
In May last year, the NGT had permitted the AoL to proceed with the event and had imposed a fine of Rs 5 crore.
The event was held on the left bank of the river between the Barapullah elevated road and the DND flyway between 11 and 13 March, 2016. Mr Ravi Shankar added that the event, which saw over three million attendees from 155 countries over a three-day period, polluted neither air, water nor land.
“The world over, cultural programmes are held on riverbanks. The whole idea was to bring awareness to save the river,” he said.