A group of residents from across Delhi-NCR have written to President Pranab Mukherjee, urging him not to take part in Art of Living’s World Culture Festival (WCF) on the Yamuna floodplains.
“We request you not to embrace this wonton pollution of the river, this destruction of the riverbed, by your presence at this event,” the letter says.
President Mukherjee is scheduled to be the chief guest of the closing ceremony on March 13.
Lima Rosalind, a conservation education and interpretation professional, told Hindustan Times that doctors, scientists, IT professionals, chefs, army personnel and environment activists and experts had written to the president to make sure the voice of protest was heard.
“We have asked him not to lend legitimacy to such an event where lakhs and lakhs will trample the Yamuna floodplains. This event is a blatant violation of the fragile ecosystem. We know we can’t fight against these political beings but this is our little voice of protest,” Rosalind said. These letters were being mailed to the President individually.
Over 35 lakh people are expected to attend the three-day event from March 11 to 13 on the ecologically fragile Yamuna floodplain. The main stage is spread over seven acres and can accommodate 37,000 artists.
A petition filed in the National Green Tribunal by plea by activist Manoj Misra has alleged that “illegal and unauthorised dumping and construction in the active flood plains of river Yamuna in the NCT of Delhi is taking place over some 25 hectares upstream of DND flyway”.
The next hearing is slated early next week.
Bharati Chaturvedi, director of the Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group, who has also written to the President, said the festival throws all ecological, moral and legal aspects of a city, of a river and of public safety to the winds.
“They have every right to celebrate but not at the cost of the public property and environment. No matter what the green credentials of the Art Of Living foundation are, they are irrelevant in this case. They have flattened the land, frightened the birds and aquatic life and destroyed the water catchment area,” she said.