President Pranab Mukherjee will not attend a festival being organised by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of Art of Living in the wake of a controversy over holding the three-day cultural function on the Yamuna flood plains beginning.
“The President cannot attend the function due to unavoidable circumstances,” an official of the Rashtrapati Bhavan said on Monday.
Mukherjee had earlier agreed to attend the valedictory ceremony on Sunday.
While the organisers expect lakhs of people to attend the function, which beings on Friday, concerns have been raised by experts about the likely damage to the environment caused by holding it on the flood plains of the already polluted river in east Delhi.
The Art of Living foundation, which is organising the function, will have yoga and meditation sessions, peace prayers by Sanskrit scholars and traditional cultural performances from around the world.
The National Green Tribunal, which looks after the environmental issues, is hearing a petition which has claimed the organisers will release ‘enzymes’ into 17 drains that flow into the Yamuna for cleaning the river. A judgement is expected on Tuesday.
The three-day event will be held from March 11-13 on the west bank of Yamuna to celebrate 35 years of The Art of Living foundation.
“This proposed activity would be in blatant violation of the provisions of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, and the Biological Diversity Act, 2002, since it is, basically, introducing foreign elements into the river, without any scientific study or information,” the petition said.
Earlier, the green panel had issued notices to the Delhi government, Delhi Development Authority and Art of Living Foundation on another plea seeking stoppage of ongoing construction work on the flood plains.
It had also constituted an expert committee headed by Water Resources Secretary Shashi Shekhar to inspect the site of the proposed festival.