Congress slams Modi, Kejriwal over Art of Living event

New Delhi, March 11 (IANS) The Congress on Friday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of “blatant political and constitutional impropriety” by supporting and participating in the World Culture Festival.

“The support and participation of both in an event that has been legally held to be an ‘ecological disaster’ and a wrongdoing punishable by a fine, characterises gross hypocrisy of the BJP and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP),” said Congress spokesperson P.L. Punia.

“While organising a World Culture Festival to showcase Indian culture is a welcome step, one is left to wonder as to why should it be organised by destroying one of the most sacred and vibrant symbol of our cultural heritage- the Yamuna. Why couldn’t it have been organised at a rather open place or a stadium?” Punia asked.

The National Green Tribunal on Friday gave three weeks to organiser Art of Living (AoL) to pay environmental compensation of Rs.5 crore for holding the World Culture Festival on the Yamuna floodplains in Delhi.

AoL told the tribunal that it will abide by the ruling and sought four weeks to deposit Rs.5 crore.

The tribunal said that the AoL should pay Rs.25 lakh on Friday and the balance in three weeks.

“One is also forced to wonder as to what brand of spiritualism upholds environmental destruction? We have witnessed blatant collusion between the government of India, the government of Delhi and Sri Sri Ravishankar in organising an event which will result in a body blow to the holy Yamuna flowing besides the national capital,” said Punia.

The Delhi High Court had earlier described the proposed World Culture Festival as an “ecological disaster”.

“The very fact that the NGT decided to fine the organisers AOL and the governments of India and Delhi, prima facie establish that the event is illegal and will result in irreparable damage to the Yamuna. Why is an illegal and environmentally degrading event being allowed to take place by the governments concerned?” asked Punia.

“While union culture minister Mahesh Sharma gave a grant of Rs.2.25 crore to the event, a hand-in-glove Kejriwal’s minister Kapil Mishra wrote to the defence ministry urging them to build more pontoon bridges for the cultural event,” he added.

The AoL’s three-day cultural extravaganza started on Friday on a colourful note. The organisers have already spent Rs.25.63 crore for the event.

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