Handed over venue after removing all garbage: Art of Living

  • Ritam Halder, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 24, 2016 11:33 IST
More than a month after Art of Living's World Culture Festival, HT visits the Yamuna bank, which was the site of the festival to take a look at its condition in New Delhi . HT found debris and waste on the banks. (Photo by Saumya Khandelwal/ Hindustan Times) (Saumya Khandelwal/HT Photo)

The Art of Living Foundation on Saturday said they had handed over the World Culture Festival site to the DDA after removing all the garbage.

Environmental consultant Rakesh Ranjan, who has been working with the foundation in the cleaning process after the event and assessing environment impact, if any, said a thorough process was followed to make sure no harm was done.

Read more: The art of ‘cover-up’ on Yamuna floodplain after Ravi Shankar’s event

“We started with visual assessment of the site by photographing the environmental indicators. We conducted 6-7 site visits and created a photographic inventory. A huge amount of money has been spent to sanitise the site and every single bit of garbage has been handpicked and removed,” Ranjan told Hindustan Times.

According to him, grass growing by itself, without any human intervention, is itself an indication that the environmental impact was minimal.

“It is a clear indication that the impact on the floodplain is very, very low. However, we need quantified assessment of any impact – in an impartial setup like a laboratory approved by the ministry of environment and forests. The court, however, has to approve it. If after that any damage is found, we are ready to be part of the restoration and environmental enhancement, if needed,” he said.

Art of Living director Gautam Vig stressed on the absolute lack of security at the site. “We had written to the DDA twice: Once during the dismantling process and also on April 18 while handing over the site. We asked them to provide adequate security. We cleaned the whole venue, but some trespassers littered the place and left garbage after we vacated it. Some people come on weekends and holidays for kite flying and to play cricket. We can’t be held responsible if they are littering,” Vig said.

On the Sri Sri brand water bottles and digestive biscuits packets that were spotted strewn around at the site, Vig said anyone could buy and dump them. “These products are easily available across the country. Any person can get these from a shop and dump them here. Lot of vengeance and political tone seems to be the reason behind this,” he said.

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