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Don't destroy the #Yamuna Floodplains - Shift the Art of Living Festival.

This petition had 24,317 supporters


Shri Narendra Modi, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India

Chief Justice of Supreme Court of India

Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Hon’ble President of India

Shri Swatanter Kumar, Hon’ble Chairman- National Green Tribunal

Shri Arvind Kejriwal, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Delhi

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder- Art of Living Foundation

 February 28th, 2016

 Subject: Appeal to shift the venue of World Culture Festival

In its journey of 1376 kms from Yamunotri to Allahabad, 22 kms of River Yamuna flows through Delhi. Ironically, this journey of 22 kms through the most powerful city of the nation is primarily responsible for choking the river. What enters the city as a revered river unfortunately exits as a drain, a dead water body. Amidst this chaotic ecosystem, floodplains come forth as the only hope for survival of the river.

As the integral part of the aquatic system of any river, floodplains are the natural space for the river to dissipate its energy. A river with vulnerable and damaged floodplains is one step closer to death, to say the least.

Unfortunately, the floodplains of the river Yamuna in Delhi have already been injured with mega constructions. Akshardham temple, Delhi Transport Corporations Bus Shelter / Depot, Common Wealth Games Village, main Office of the Delhi Metro, to name a few, are technically on the flood plains of the Yamuna. These constructions, however, stand proud and tall despite the orders of National Green Tribunal (NGT) which restrain any construction, be it temporary or permanent, on the flood plain zone of river Yamuna in the NCT of Delhi, State of Haryana and State of Uttar Pradesh. Its Zone O which means its ecologically sensitive zone and therefore NO construction should be allowed in this area.

While the river struggles to flow, Art of Living Foundation is organising a 3 day festival in March 2016 on the floodplains of the river near Mayur Vihar, festival venue spread over 1000 acres of floodplain.  Expected to be attended by about 3.5 million people from different countries, the river will continue to die, bit by bit. A make-shift stadium with a 40-ft-high stage, numerous cabins and a parking amongst other constructions clearly represent disaster for the Eco system. How can the sudden disappearance of the flora and fauna from the floodplains be celebrated? THIS IS WITHIN 10 KMs OF OKHLA BIRD SANCTUARY AND ALL THE DESTRUCTION OF FLORA AND FAUNA HAS STARTED TO AFFECT THE NATURAL ECOSYSTEM.

Respected Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Jee,

We are aware that you have raised the cause of Yamuna in the past but this act of yours to assemble 3.5 million people and also supposedly to be in the Guinness Book of World Records is going to kill Yamuna, the only source of water for Delhi. We acknowledge your right as an individual and organisation to propagate your faith and beliefs through an event such as this. However the entire purpose of celebrating the richness of culture gets defeated when it is done at the expense of a natural resource and more so, a river that is anyway struggling to survive. However temporary the structures being erected for the event might be, the entire ecosystem will suffer due to the heavy footfall during three days of the festival and the damage is irreversible. Have we not witnessed enough disasters as a result of ill planned constructions in the recent past?  

Despite being exploited over and over again, River Yamuna continues to be our lifeline and quench the thirst of millions of people. And the only way for her to fend for herself in a city like Delhi is through the floodplains that are sadly, already under a grave threat. Our capital city has enough venues to accommodate such a large crowd and host an 'exquisite' event such as this.  If granted the permission, 3 days of the World Culture festival would further lead to years of destruction and permanent damage to the river rather than its beautification or rejuvenation. We are aware that you have been imposed a fne of Rs 120 Crores, and you still have the permission to pay the fine and organise the event. But is there not greater wisdom and spirituality if you understand the gravity of the situation and shift the venue ?

And for all our Constitutional Authorities, here is a small request from each citizen of Delhi.

-          Immediately withdraw the permission to hold the festival on the flood plain and shift the venue

-          Not allow any form of construction, irrespective of its temporary nature or the fact that only eco-friendly materials have been used to build the structures ( as claimed by AOL foundation)

-          Allot a venue that does NOT exploit the environment and violate the NGT guidelines for the river Yamuna

-          Take strict actions to repair the damage already done

We do want more and more people to come and witness the river and find a connect, protect it. But this madness and destruction should just not be allowed. 

For any queries or suggestions, you can reach out to us at swechhaindia@gmail.com



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