New Delhi: Amid furore over the upcoming World Culture Festival being organised by the Art of Living foundation, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has said that they will not harm the Yamuna river.
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, is expected to be attended by nearly 35 lakh people.
Several NGOs and environmental activists have moved the National Green Tribunal (NGT) against the festival saying it will cause irreparable damage to the Yamuna ecosystem.
While NGT is continuing hearing on the matter, it has proposed a fine of Rs 120 crores on the organisers of the event.
But, Ravi Shankar, the founder of Art of Living, has stressed that they will not cause any harm to the river.
“We would not harm the Yamuna. Nobody associated with the event will stay there. They will come at 5 pm and leave by 10 pm. The hue and cry that we are destroying the Yamuna floodplain is nonsense,” Ravi Shankar told the Hindustan Times in an interview.
He dismissed the allegations that flora has been destroyed to prepare the ground for the event.
“First of all, there was nothing there but weeds at the location. Secondly, the land is cultivated. If it was virgin land with flora and fauna, I would have been the first one to say ‘let’s not do anything here, we don’t want to destroy anything’,” the AOL founder said.
He also denied that trees have been cut on the floodplains.
Ravi Shankar said the allegation of debris being dumped on the floodplain was wrong and that they have only levelled the land.
Responding to fears that high footfall will cause damage to the floodplain, Ravi Shankar said festivals have been organised for centuries on the banks of river Ganga.
Asked how traffic will be managed during the festival, the spiritual guru said they are in touch with police and that 10,000 volunteers are working on the traffic management plan.