Admitting that a large scale event as World Cultural Festival organised by the Art of Living foundation could have an impact on the environment, Minister of State for Tourism Mahesh Sharma on Friday said that a solution can always be procured if such a problem crops up.
“India’s strength lies in its diverse culture and we want to take that to the corners of the world which is why this event is so helpful. So, there should be no debates on it. Yes, there can be issues on the location and the impact it can have on the environment but there are always solutions to such things,? Sharma told ANI.
Asserting that the event must go on in any circumstance, he said that the location of the event was a matter for the law and order to be concerned with and added that the proceedings in the case must go on uninterrupted.
”In no case must anyone raise objections towards the intent of the function but some people are still politicising the event. I completely support the concern towards the environment but I also back such events, which promote the cultural diversity of the country,” Sharma said.
Art of Living deposits Rs 25 lakh, rest will be deposited in 3 weeks
Meanwhile, the Art of Living has deposited Rs 25 lakh and the balance amount will be deposited within three weeks to which the NGT accepted.
The NGT also told the foundation that if anybody hurts the image of the tribunal, they would take it to a logical conclusion as per rule of law.
Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had said earlier he would appeal the tribunal’s order. “We have done nothing wrong. I will go to jail but not pay the fine,” he told reporters, adding that his group would clean the riverbanks and leave no debris after the festival.
In a separate order last year, the National Green Tribunal had said that no construction should be allowed in the floodplains of the Yamuna River.
Several environmentalists had petitioned the National Green Tribunal over the potential environmental damage and alleged the group didn’t have all the required permits and safety certificates. The foundation denies that and says it has obtained permission for all the construction.
Farmers also complained that they have been pushed off their land.
World Culture Festival begins in Delhi but rains play havoc
But even as the green tribunal cleared the decks for the cultural festival, heavy downpour wreaked havoc in parts of the national capital, including at the venue in east Delhi’s Mayur Vihar. There was a complete chaos as thousands of people tried to enter the sprawling venue complex on the marshy floodplains of the river, witnesses said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived at the venue shortly after 5.30 p.m.
Thousands of people were already gathered at the sprawling Yamuna floodplains for the event that is expected to draw lakhs of people over the next three days.