Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has asked Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to help clean the Yamuna and bring the Centre and the Delhi government together for the cause.
“I am very selfish and want two things from you,” Kejriwal said in his address to the World Cultural Festival on Sunday, referring to Ravi Shankar.
Nearly three lakh people attended the event on Sunday, the last day of the three-day festival.
“We are on the Yamuna floodplains and are committed to cleaning the river. The Central government (ministers) is seated to your left and Delhi government (ministers) is seated to your right. We need your help. We are committed to cleaning the river and I’m sure the centre is equally committed,” Kejriwal said.
The CM also requested him to lend Art of Living (AOL) volunteers to the Delhi government to help implement programmes.
“AOL volunteers are disciplined and are always smiling. We hold many programmes and require volunteers. Please send your volunteers for Delhi government programmes,” he said.
Kejriwal was greeted by cheers by some members of the audience while some booed him.
He was among the last politicians to speak at the festival on Sunday. BJP president Amit Shah, finance minister Arun Jaitley, urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu, railway minister Suresh Prabhu and power minister Piyush Goel were some high-profile leaders who addressed the gathering before the Delhi CM.
Kejriwal also appreciated the scale of the event. “This sight is amazing. More than 4,500 artists congregated on a seven-acre stage. The programme is divine and extraordinary. Only Guruji (Ravi Shankar) with his message of peace and love could have managed it. One cannot fight hatred with hatred but only with love. This is the message Guruji takes to the world,” he said.
Venkaiah Naidu said the Yamuna was not polluted. “People are saying that the Yamuna is polluted. Look at it, it is clean and calm. It is the minds that are polluted,” Naidu said.
Telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “There is no pollution here, only culture (sanskriti). There is no harm to the environment, only smiles.”
Environmentalists had protested against the festival, claiming the festival will damage the eco-sensitive Yamuna floodplains.