The intentions are not malicious but harmful. The issue is not political but environmental, as of now! The cultural festival organised by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living is a beguiling initiative according to me and I shall explain my stand.
Organizing a cultural fest that has a huge threshold and displaying India’s cultural diversity to the world is a benevolent idea and something that must be encouraged. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s initiative to organize such a humongous event is appreciated but the ‘thinking things through’ part is faulty.
Humour and compel yourselves to understand this issue from another important angle. Our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi was all praises about this event and was one big enthusiast. His doubts about what this would do to the environment did not find much space in his speech where he calls this event a ‘Kumbh Mela’ of Art and Culture. Does this show our PMO’s stance on environment issues? Is it in dissonance with the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’ ?
- Yamuna Floodplains- Despite having a security blanket thrown over the floodplains, it is highly doubtful that it would not harm the place. Also, the National Green Tribunal had warned that no matter how many precautions one takes, the event would cast a permanent damage to the floodplains.
Do you think it was a pragmatic decision to approve this event despite knowing its disquieting consequences?
- Compensation- I was unable to fathom why something like this would happen. 5 crore rupees is the ‘environmental compensation’ that the AOL has to pay for the damage to the floodplains. Why was the event given thumbs up when the damage was already known?
You harm the environment, but get away with it by paying some money which you can afford. Congrats! It’s a win-win for you.
- Garbage (inevitably) – the long walk to the main centre stage is packed with food and drinks stalls and thus the inevitable happened. Garbage.
The floodplain was being dumped with garbage, though inside the venue volunteers were disposing the garbage in the bins. A few men were spotted urinating. *facepalm*
How ironical that this cultural event was in turn harming the cultural ethos of the entire floodplain and the garbage that was piling on was one of the unfortunate attractions of the event.
- Traffic Jam- though traffic jams are a daily sight for us, the event caused a major one because of two main reasons:
- The organisers of the event had promised to incorporate around 5000 cars but ended up having provisions for only 300! This led to cars being parked alongside the road that led to the venue and many vehicles being turned away.
- The relationship between rain and traffic is self explanatory!
- Discomfort- People had to walk long distances to reach the venue and with the rain, the muck was creating a lot of problems for the enthusiasts. Those who had nothing to do with the AOL event suffered too because there were major traffic jams in east and central Delhi with long queues at south ex, ITO, Mathura Road, Kalindi Kunj, India Gate etc.
P.S- This is not the first time that AOL has been questioned over its environmental stance. In 2011 a public litigation was filed alleging that Art of Living has constructed huge structures, encroaching upon the water spread area of Udipalaya tank.
The event could have had a different and a more viable venue and things would have worked in favour of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. By paying the compensation, the loss cannot be undone. The efforts that will be made with the money to undo the damage will not be as effective as it would have been if the event was stalled from happening on the Yamuna floodplains.
As we reiterate, Prevention is always better than cure. Peace out!
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.