Asserting that the World Culture Festival being organised by the Art of Living foundation on the Yamuna floodplains was an event to unite everyone, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar appealed to all parties to not politicise the mega function.
I appeal to all parties to not politicize the #WCF2016. It is to unite all cultures, nations, religions & ideologies. Let's come together!— Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (@SriSri) March 9, 2016
Earlier, the Opposition raised the issue of the Indian Army’s involvement in the construction of pontoon bridges for the World Culture Festival, creating an uproar in the Rajya Sabha.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury hit out at the Centre asking why was the Army being roped in for a private event following which the Opposition MPs raised slogans of ‘Army ka galat istemaal mat karo, raksha karo’.
In response, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is committed towards protecting environment and added that it would be wrong to doubt his commitment towards nature.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, said that he was concerned about the event as the Delhi Police had also raised security concerns.
Stating that NGT had in January 2015 declared that any construction on Yamuna banks would be deemed a criminal act, Azad said big structures were being built to hold the event on 1000 acres of land. Diesel generators, car parking and sound sets are being set up, with the Delhi Police warning of stampede, pandemonium and chaos.
No permission for structural safety has been given, while there was also a security angle involved with Pakistan warning of terror strikes, he said. “This function could have been held anywhere but not at the cost of Yamuna.”
M S Gill (Cong) asked if the Army would also be sent out to build bridges across Sutlej and other rivers by events by other spiritual gurus. He referred to the Commonwealth Games village also built on the Yamuna banks which saw flooding in October 2010.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, however, lashed out at the Opposition saying that if a matter is pending with Tribunal, ordinarily the chair doesn’t allow the issue to be raised in the House.
Speaking to the media after the House was adjourned, Yechury reiterated that the Army was being misused and added the entire matter is a violation on the Green Tribunal.
Meanwhile, the National Green Tribunal continued the hearing on the plea seeking to stop construction of temporary structure for event where the Water Resource Ministry informed NGT that they did not given any permission for the event.