Did Yamuna have dolphins? AAP’s Kapil Mishra defends Art of Living
Delhi water minister Kapil Mishra on Thursday took to social media to criticise the National Green Tribunal-appointed expert panel report, which estimated that over R 42 crore and 10 years would be needed to fix the damage caused to the Yamuna floodplains by the Art of Living foundation’s three-day festival held last year.delhi Updated: May 01, 2017 12:48 IST
Delhi water minister Kapil Mishra on Thursday took to social media to criticise the National Green Tribunal-appointed expert panel report, which estimated that over Rs42 crore and 10 years would be needed to fix the damage caused to the Yamuna floodplains by the Art of Living foundation’s three-day festival held last year.
Mishra also extended an invitation to Ravi Shankar to visit Delhi again.
“Before the World Culture Festival, there were dolphins swimming in river Yamuna. Thousands of birds were chirping around. Tourists from all over the world used to come solely to see the banks of river Yamuna. It is then that Sri Sri came and added many polluting drains to river Yamuna. He drove away all the dolphins and birds. He also prohibited people from coming to the river,” wrote Mishra in his sarcasm-laced post on Facebook, which he later shared on his Twitter account too.
Mishra said festivals that bring people to the river, help to maintain it clean. “Based on the experience and understanding I have gained fighting for the Yamuna over the last 12 years, I can clearly say that World Culture Festival should be held on the banks of the Yamuna, over and over again,” he wrote, before adding an invitation to Ravi Shankar.
The posts come a day after an expert panel submitted its report to the tribunal, finding Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living Foundation culpable of damaging the riverfront during the World Culture Festival held in March last year.
Mishra said his contention was not whether the festival had polluted the river or not, but that it has always been polluted. “Yamuna is being polluted by drains (that empty into the river). The only impact of the festival has been that... it brought many people to the river who saw the condition and created awareness about the issue... The experts need to fix the accountability of the responsible agencies,” said the water minister.
An environmentalist who worked on matters related to the Yamuna said Mishra had missed the point with his statement. “Everybody knows Yamuna was polluted before too. The case was about an illegality, where a previous NGT order had prohibited any temporary or permanent constructions, or any events on the floodplains without the NGT’s permission. The pollution and damage is just a consequence of an illegal action,” he said.
Vimlendhu Jha, a vocal environmentalist from Swechha India, criticised Mishra’s comments. “Over 30 lakh people flocking to an eco-sensitive zone is no joke. It is unfortunate that the water minister, who is the custodian of the river in many ways, said this,” he said.
The minister maintained his position. “As the tourist minister, I am happy that such a large event happened in Delhi. As the water minister, I am happy it happened on the banks of river the Yamuna.”