New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT), which is hearing a plea against the Art of Living Foundation's proposed 'World Culture Festival', on Tuesday posed some tough questions to the Delhi Development Authority and the UP government for granting permission for the event and not considering all environmental aspects.
As the NGT continued its hearing on the proposed event, the Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar today said, ''We’ll leave the venue as a beautiful bio-diversity park after the event is over.''
Speaking to reporters, the renowned spiritual guru said, ''As per my knowledge, not even a single tree has been cut down, we've only trimmed four trees.''
Sri Sri further assured that he wants to keep Yamuna river clean.
''We will not pollute the environment. We haven't cut a single tree. I want the Yamuna to remain clean.'' he added.
The reactions from Sri Sri came at a time when the NGT is hearing a plea moved by several NGOs and environmental activists against the World Culture Festival.
While the NGT slammed the DDA for overlooking various environmental issues, the Army defended its move to construct two pontoon bridges on the Yamuna river for the event.
Clarifying on the issue, the Defence Ministry said that the Army pitched in to help in building supporting infrastructure for the event in view of security and safety of lakhs of people who are expected to attend the event from March 11 to 13 on grounds adjacent to the Yamuna river near Mayur Vihar.
During the hearing, the NGT asked the DDA and the UP government to explain why they gave permission to organise such a massive event without proper assessment of the likely threat it poses to the Yamuna river bed and the ecosystem.
"The area which you have given, does it come under flood plain and with what authority did you give parking permission? The NGT asked the UP government counsel to explain.
It also asked the UP government to clarify whether the organisers took more area and what amount of money was spent in clearing the debris.
A day earlier, President Pranab Mukherjee had announced that he will not attend the World Culture Festival which is being organised by spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
The petitioners have moved the NGT against the festival saying it will cause irreparable damage to the Yamuna ecosystem.
The three-day event will be held on the floodplains of the Yamuna river near DND toll bridge and massive construction is underway for the festival starting March 11.
The event, being held on the 35th anniversary of the Art of Living foundation.
The programme that is expected to be attended by 35 lakh people from 155 countries.
Earlier, reacting to the allegations of causing damage to the environment for 'World Culture Festival' event on Yamuna flood plains, Sri Sri Ravi had said, it is the joke of the year when people say that his organisation is polluting the Yamuna river.
The noted spiritual guru said, "The Art of Living should be lauded and rewarded for even choosing such a polluted place for a prestigious international event.”
While stressing that they will not cause any harm to the river, the spiritual guru said, “It takes enormous courage and commitment to ready a place where once, one could not even breathe due to the stink.”