Tourism and water minister Kapil Mishra in a letter to Union defence minister Manohar Parrikar on February 16 requested the Army to build an additional pontoon bridge for Art of Living (AoL) foundation’s World Culture Festival on the Yamuna floodplain.
The government did not reveal this before the National Green Tribunal on Tuesday when asked about the permissions the foundation sought for the bridges.
“(One pontoon bridge for the festival) is not adequate for safe movement of the large gathering of people. Hence we request the Army for building at least one more pontoon bridge over River Yamuna during the World Culture Festival…The Delhi government will, however, not bear any expenditure whatsoever,” (sic) the letter said.
By the time Mishra wrote to the defence minister, the Army built one pontoon bridge at the venue.
The event to be held from March 11-13 has drawn flak from various quarters over concerns that it will cause lasting damage to the ecologically fragile floodplain. But Delhi government, especially Mishra, expressed full support to the fest.
The minister even offered government help. “Please let me know if Delhi government can do anything for you to extend or expedite support to (AoL founder) Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s World Culture Festival,” the letter said.
Mishra clarified, after the NGT order on Wednesday, that he had only written to the Union minister to ask for an additional pontoon bridge for people’s safety.
No role in permit for Sri Sri event: Uma Bharti
Union minister of water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation Uma Bharti on Wednesday said her ministry had no role in “giving or cancelling” permission to the world fest.
Wishing the event “great success”, Bharti said she was sure that there will be “no damage caused” by the event.
“And, I totally believe, Yamuna and its problems will come into focus after the event,” said Bharti, who added the attention would improve the quality of Delhi’s lifeline.
She even said her ministry will request the “environmentally alert” Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to take part in social programmes of the Centre’s Clean Ganga mission.