The National Green Tribunal will resume a crucial hearing on Tuesday on pleas seeking cancellation of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living three-day ‘World Culture Festival’ on the Yamuna flood plains to celebrate 35 years of the foundation.
Here is all you need to know about the event:
1. The three-day Art of Living event called World Culture Festival is scheduled for March 11-13. Construction of tents, hutments, barricades, pontoon bridges and a seven-acre stage is nearly over at the Yamuna floodplains in East Delhi
2. Just as one takes the DND Flyway towards Noida or Mayur Vihar from Ashram or Sarai Kale Khan, the colossal construction work stands out on the left. Art of Living says the festival site is spread over 1,000 acres. 35 lakh people are estimated to attend the festival.
3. President Pranab Mukherjee, who was to deliver the valedictory address on the final day, has decided to skip the event. NGT is likely to deliver a verdict on the event on Tuesday.
4. A plea by Yamuna activist Manoj Misra challenging the event in the National Green Tribunal states that “illegal and unauthorised dumping & construction in the active flood plains of river Yamuna in Delhi is taking place over some 25 hectare upstream of DND flyway”.
5. Bulldozers have been used to level the ground for chairs and carpets. Crops were damaged as farmers were asked to clear fields to cut roads.
6. “The floodplain has been destroyed; the natural vegetation consisting of reeds, and trees has been completely removed,” an NGT appointed panel had said in its report. It also said it was too late to scrap the event, suggesting a fine of R120 crore.
7. The Art Of Living foundation, on its part, has said that they have started work “only upon the grant of permission from the authorities/DDA” and are using eco-friendly material like wood, mud, cloth for the constructions. DDA told the NGT last week that it was not aware of the scale of the event.
8. Delhi Tourism Minister Kapil Mishra said last week that personally, he didn’t see any problem in organising the event next to Yamuna as such events can make people sensitive about the river.
9. The NGT in a detailed judgment last year prohibited construction activity on the floodplains as that could pose a grave danger to the river ecology. The tribunal had asked its principal committee to identify structures on the floodplains that needed to be demolished.
10. An online petition to shift the venue of Art of Living foundations’ World Culture Festival from the Yamuna floodplains is also gaining momentum. Till Tuesday morning, over 12,000 people signed the petition on change.org that is addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Justice of Supreme Court of India, National Green Tribunal chairperson Swatanter Kumar, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravishankar.