World Culture Festival: President Mukherjee opts out, mega show wades into troubled Yamuna waters

President Pranab Mukherjee had earlier agreed to attend the valedictory ceremony for the World Culture Festival organised by the Art of Living on Sunday.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: March 9, 2016 2:20 pm
world culture festival, pranab mukherjee, sri sri ravi shankar, art of living festival, world culture festival yamuna bank, yamuna bank art of living event, NGT, president world culture festival, delhi news, india news, latest news President Pranab Mukherjee will not be attending the World Culture Festival  in New Delhi.

The Rashtrapati Bhavan confirmed Monday that President Pranab Mukherjee will not attend the World Culture Festival of the Art of Living Foundation in New Delhi later this week.

The March 11-13 event, which organisers claim will be attended by 3.5 million people, has stoked a controversy because it is being organised on the floodplains of the Yamuna and there are concerns that it will cause permanent environmental damage.

Watch Video | World Culture Festival: NGT Asks Centre To Explain Clearances Given

The President’s office did not say why Mukherjee, who was to preside over the valedictory function, had opted out.

The National Green Tribunal, which has been approached by two persons to stop the event, did not meet Monday because of the Shivratri holiday. A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar is expected to deliver its verdict Tuesday.

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Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar declined comment on the likely damage to the floodplains, saying the matter is sub-judice.

world culture festival, pranab mukherjee, sri sri ravi shankar, art of living festival, world culture festival yamuna bank, yamuna bank art of living event, NGT, president world culture festival, delhi news, india news, latest news Work in full swing at the site of the Art of Living’s World Culture Festival along the Yamuna flood plains on Sunday. (Source: Express photo by Oinam Anand)

The Art of Living, founded by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, also declined comment on the President’s decision to skip the event. It has been maintaining that the event will not cause any damage to the floodplains since no permanent construction has been done.

A huge 7-acre stage has been built on the Yamuna riverbed, and tents are being erected for the three-day event.

A large number of temporary constructions, including dirt tracks from the road to the venue, are also coming up. The event is being organised to mark the 35th anniversary of the Art of Living and is being billed as the “biggest ever festival of music and dance”.

A number of serving and former heads of states, ministers, lawmakers and celebrities from different countries are also scheduled to attend the event, according to the Art of Living website. These include Nepal President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, Vice-President of European Parliament Ryszard Czarnecki, Vice-President of Suriname Michael A Adhin, former Prime Minister of France Dominique de Villepin, and former Prime Minister of Pakistan Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani.

Advertisements say 35,973 artists will perform at the event. Former Chief Justice of India R C Lahoti is listed as the chairperson of the ‘reception committee’.

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  1. A
    Mar 7, 2016 at 12:48 pm
    Art of making money
    1. S
      Mar 7, 2016 at 1:36 pm
      Can NGT stop the construction on West Bank of Yamuna where 5 story buildings have come up in violation of environmental law ?
      1. D
        Deepak Sharma
        Mar 8, 2016 at 2:45 am
        Small minded people create mobs and agitations. A visionary creates a movement.
        1. M
          Mar 8, 2016 at 5:53 am
          Leftie the culture hater found another front to work on!
          1. P
            Mar 7, 2016 at 11:00 pm
            Wherever Hinduism or rituals are practiced or offered congress anti Nationals anti hindus send their people in form of ngo's to protest. Hindus beware if you vote for some fool like sonia's raoul vinci, you are hurting your beliefs and religion. Congress has manited in letting terrorists cross the borders because of Shivratri so they target hindus. We have to drive out this vicious congress party. We common citizens should come out and neutralize sonia and family so people don't get fooled be fooled by biryanis. They care nothing just dying to come back to power.
            1. S
              Mar 7, 2016 at 1:35 pm
              1. A
                Mar 8, 2016 at 8:25 am
                Source of funds ??
                1. D
                  Mar 8, 2016 at 6:13 am
                  I do not want to comment on the alleged violation of environmental norms as NGT will address the issue. However, to deploy Indian army for supporting this activity is incorrect and uncalled for at the time some parts of the country are under terrorist threat and on red alert. This comes after the use of army personnel in clean Ganga project and Govt should refrain from this. If army wanted to practice to lay bridges across Yamuna river then they could have done at some other time.
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