Three weeks after AoL fest, Yamuna floodplain clean-up far from over

  • Ritam Halder, HT Correspondent
  • Updated: Apr 03, 2016 08:07 IST
Workers on Saturday dismantle the stage put up for the World Culture Festival on the Yamuna floodplain. (Sonu Mehta/HT Photo)

New Delhi: Three weeks after the World Culture Festival event was held on the Yamuna floodplain, the clean up work at the venue is in progress and will take more time to complete.

Hindustan Times on Saturday visited the site to assess the progress of the clean-up. Labourers at the site said it would take another month to dismantle the seven-acre stage.

“Three groups of workers belonging to different contractors are dismantling the stage. It is a labour-intensive job and will take time,” said Raju (name changed on request).

Giant cranes, trucks and nearly 100 men were seen in action. A few security guards were also deployed at various corners of the site. “Apart from the stage, all other structures have been dismantled,” said one of the guards.

Even though most parts of the site have been cleaned, plastic waste dot the area. When rain played spoilsport on the opening day of the festival on March 11, plastic sheets were placed around the stage to keep the muck away. These have now become part of the soil at many places.

Plastic waste and debris around the seven- acre stage . (Ritam Halder/ Hindustan Times)

A spokesperson for the Art of Living said the clean-up would be complete once the stage was removed.

Read more: Art of Living blinks, will pay Rs 25 lakh today, Rs 4.75 cr in 3 weeks

The event that took place from March 11 to 13 saw lakhs of spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravishankar’s followers had converge at the site. The event was under the scanner for causing damage to the floodplain. The National Green Tribunal had allowed the Art of Living Foundation to hold the event on the condition that it paid “restoration costs” for damaging the environment. It imposed an initial cost of `5 crore on the foundation.

Subsequently, the court said, the foundation would have to pay restoration costs for damage caused to the environment, ecology, biodiversity and aquatic life. The cost will be decided by a committee appointed by the court.

Read more: NGT panel to visit Yamuna floodplains, assess damage caused by AoL event

The event stirred another controversy when the government told the army to build two floating bridges on floodplain for the event.

The government had come under Opposition criticism in Rajya Sabha.

Several serving and retired officers said the army should not be involved in providing equipment and soldiers for private events as it was a strain on its resources and dented its image.

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