Art of Living denies causing damage to river Yamuna

The Art of Living Foundation (AOL), an international humanitarian organisation, and the organiser of the controversial World Culture Festival, has denied allegations of violating environmental laws during preparations at World Culture Fest site on the Yamuna floodplains in Delhi.

Last Updated: Apr 09, 2016, 10:46 AM IST

New Delhi: The Art of Living Foundation (AOL), an international humanitarian organisation, and the organiser of the controversial World Culture Festival, has denied allegations of violating environmental laws during preparations at World Culture Fest site on the Yamuna floodplains in Delhi.

The spokesperson for the non-profit says that the foundation has a huge regard for the environment. “We have never violated nor do we have any intention to violate any laws of the country. We have followed and further undertake to follow all the guidelines, recommendations, directions of the honourable court and the authorities extending us the permission to hold the World Culture Festival,” he says.

The spokesperson adds that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's organisation, AOL, is in strict adherence to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) direction has not done any construction/concretization at the World Culture festival site. “We have used only eco-friendly material like wood, mud, cloth, and scaffolding towards building a temporary stage for the purpose of holding a three-day festival,” he says.

According to the foundation the Art of Living has been working since 35 years for environmental good which specifically includes work done towards restoration of dying rivers in the country along with the work done by thousands of Art of Living volunteers in Meri Dilli Meri Yamuna campaign in 2010. “During this campaign exceptional mass awareness was built up among Delhi citizens to save the river Yamuna,” the spokesperson says.

The foundations claims that the material used towards construction of the temporary stage is not in any manner embedded in the river bed.

“We have not cleared any greenery or levelled the area by dumping any construction debris as alleged. We have not blocked any river channel of river Yamuna by throwing any debris into it. Significantly, more than 512 tons of garbage and toxic material was physically cleared by our volunteers from the river Yamuna to breathe life into it as part of the Meri Dilli Meri Yamuna campaign.

The Art of living also denies any permanent structure or construction at the site. “We undertake to clear all the temporary structures being set up immediately after the event is over, ensuring that the place is left cleaner and more beautified than before,” the spokesperson says.