Art of Living show ‘a slap on face of environmental laws’: Congress

New Delhi: The Congress Party on Tuesday slammed the cultural extravaganza being organized by spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living foundation on the Yamuna floodplains and said it is a slap on the face of environmental laws.

Congress spokesperson Sandeep Dikshit told ANI that the NGO responsible for organizing the event did not take the cognizance of the environmental loss the festival might cause.

“This programme is organized by local NGO, from a very long time we had been protesting and saying that it is a slap on the face of environmental laws, Yamuna banks will be destroyed, Yamuna will get polluted, but nobody was listening,” said Dikshit.

The Congress leader also crititicised the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP in the wake of the latest developments in this regard, saying the Delhi Government did not pay much heed to the nuances of the event so as to remain at the popular side of people’s imagination.

“Unfortunately, the DDA, Delhi Police, Delhi Government who all supported this programme did not understand what was happening and because it’s a popular programme with the religion involved, therefore, the Delhi Government does not want to be on the wrong side of peoples imagination. Always the environment is sacrificed at the altar of religion and populism,” he added.

The Congress leader further said this event has embarrassed the President of India too because of which even he has pulled out of the cultural festival.

The President’s office said on Monday that he would not be attending the event. This came a day ahead of a court hearing, which would decide the fate of the controversial event planned on city’s eco sensitive Yamuna Floodplain.

Congress spokesperson P.L Punia echoing similar sentiments said the venue of the event should be changed to avoid more harm to environment and the people.

Spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living foundation is drawing flanks for flattening the floodplain, destroying birds’ nesting sites and choking the already polluted river with construction debris.

The three-day event with aim of ‘making life a celebration’ will be held from March 11-13 on the west bank of Yamuna to celebrate 35 years of the foundation.

However, the national Green tribunal will today hear the plea seeking cancellation of world cultural festival.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Swatanter Kumar will hear the matter in which the DDA, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi Governments will make their submissions with regard to grant permission to the festival.

Earlier, the green panel had issued notices to the Delhi government, Delhi Development Authority and the foundation on another plea seeking stoppage of ongoing construction work on the flood plains.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to inaugurate event on Friday.

The Art of Living programme will have yoga and meditation sessions, peace prayers by Sanskrit scholars and traditional cultural performances by artists from India and abroad. It was also aiming t create a world record by creating a stage that is spread across over 7 acres. (ANI)