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
    Aap
    Mar 7, 2016 at 12:48 pm
    Art of making money
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    1. S
      Sirius
      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 ?
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      1. D
        Deepak Sharma
        Mar 8, 2016 at 2:45 am
        Small minded people create mobs and agitations. A visionary creates a movement.
        Reply
        1. M
          MyTake
          Mar 8, 2016 at 5:53 am
          Leftie the culture hater found another front to work on!
          Reply
          1. P
            Pat
            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.
            Reply
            1. S
              sachin
              Mar 7, 2016 at 1:35 pm
              PSYCO PEOPLES ORGANIZATION
              Reply
              1. A
                Asma
                Mar 8, 2016 at 8:25 am
                Source of funds ??
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                  Diplomat
                  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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                    Dr Ashutosh
                    Mar 7, 2016 at 6:00 pm
                    The event could have been organised through video conferencing / different mechanisms and the money (spent in organising ) could have been saved and utilised for more important humane things. Look at the mive event , the people , the security apparatus which will be put to stress and probable fallout. Is this ART OF LIVING OR ART OF DESTROYING . AND LOOK AT THE COMMON MES who shall be put to trouble. Which way is MOTHER INDIA going ?
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                      ashok
                      Mar 8, 2016 at 2:08 am
                      This man is another useless fellow its unfortunate only in India such individuals are given preference.
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                        NAVIN ASTI
                        Mar 7, 2016 at 3:03 pm
                        All these agencies are having Hindu ethos and faith as soft targets even though this is above any particular faith domination.Sri Sri has also carried out such program in Germany India,to put obstructions by saints like Sri Sri has become a fashion as so many such organisations are controlled by atheists and particularly Anti-Majority minds.
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                        1. S
                          sandeep
                          Mar 7, 2016 at 4:26 pm
                          As a old congress worker how can he attend gt; Had it been any world Muslim conferance he would have attended.So also about Christ.
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                          1. I
                            Indian
                            Mar 8, 2016 at 8:30 am
                            Jumla money which we are not getting
                            Reply
                            1. I
                              Indian
                              Mar 8, 2016 at 8:29 am
                              Why the Army Jawans are working as a labour for this crorepati ? The duty of Indian Army in to SAVE the Nation not to do SEVA of Srisri420
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                                Babu Gupta
                                Mar 8, 2016 at 8:54 pm
                                More than his conscious, Mr President has to obey the order. Madam Sonia ji did not permit him to attend the function by a Hindu saint who is close to BJP.
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                                1. M
                                  mark
                                  Mar 7, 2016 at 6:38 pm
                                  majoritisim should not mean that majority can trample with the environment.
                                  Reply
                                  1. S
                                    sps
                                    Mar 7, 2016 at 5:52 pm
                                    Reading the previous comments ,I am wondering whether it's possible for some people to ever think outside"Hindu-Muslim" mindset?It's a plain and simple environment issue but religion is being dragged in.Those defending the event in the name of Hinduism should realize that the event will cause damage to a river considered holy by Hindus. Those protesting against NGT not acting at the time of Common Wealth Games should get their facts right.NGT was set post Common Wealth Games .
                                    Reply
                                    1. S
                                      sps
                                      Mar 8, 2016 at 7:27 am
                                      Sirius,Pope or anybody else is free to hold any event in a manner that doesn't harm the environment.For me it's an issue about environment and not about any particular religion .My stand would be same if it was pope.a Sikh religious event(I belong to a Sikh family) or anybody else.
                                      Reply
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                                        Bijan Mohanty
                                        Mar 8, 2016 at 8:59 am
                                        Very suggestive gesture by our President.
                                        Reply
                                        1. S
                                          Subramanian Chandramouli
                                          Mar 7, 2016 at 4:54 pm
                                          So 'environmentalists' achieved what they actually intended !!!!????
                                          Reply
                                          1. S
                                            Sandeep
                                            Mar 8, 2016 at 4:51 am
                                            The spot where WCF was no less than a dirty slum. It was cleared by the Art of living. What village r u talking about
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