BJP leader Varun Gandhi’s latest remark on Rally for River, a campaign to revitalise the water bodies, may irk his party men. The BJP MP said that though he supports the campaign, the drive should start with Yamuna floodplains that was destroyed last year for an event. “I fully support the Rally for Rivers initiated by saints yday + tree plantation drive.Pls start with the Yamuna floodplains ruined last year,” tweeted Gandhi.
Activists last year had alleged that the ‘World Culture Festival’ extravaganza organised by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living (AOL) on Yamuna has “completely destroyed” the riverbed. After several complaints, the National Green Tribunal had directed a seven-member expert committee headed by Shashi Shekhar, Secretary of Ministry of Water Resources, and senior scientists and experts from National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, IIT, Delhi and other agencies to inspect the site of the World Culture Festival.
I fully support the Rally for Rivers initiated by saints yday + tree plantation drive.Pls start with the Yamuna floodplains ruined last year
— Varun Gandhi (@varungandhi80) October 2, 2017
The commitee, in its report in 2016, said that the festival caused heavy damage to the Yamuna floodplains. It’s 47-page report, the commitee said that due to the three-day event, the floodplain has lost “almost all its natural vegetation” like trees, shrubs, tall grasses, aquatic vegetation including water hyacinth which provides habitat to large number of animals, insects and mud-dwelling organisms.
However, the findings of the report was rejected by the new panel formed by the NGT in 2017 which said that there is “no compaction”, “no significant…wetland” and “no debris” at the site. The fresh report found the same area to be “fully covered with grass, along with saplings/seedlings of various tree species here and there”.
Rally for Rivers is a nation-wide campaign of Isha Foundation to save rivers in the country. Founder Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev rode about 7,000 km from Kanyakumari, covering 16 states to create awareness on the issue.
The rally, flagged off on September 3, culminated in Delhi on October 2.