Kejriwal Breaks Silence, Openly Supports Sri Sri’s AOL Event


Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (left) and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. (Photo: <b>The Quint</b>)
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (left) and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. (Photo: The Quint)

Kejriwal Breaks Silence, Openly Supports Sri Sri’s AOL Event

Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are usually the first to protest against alleged violations of the law. But this time, they seemed to have turned a blind eye to the ecological destruction of the Yamuna floodplains by ongoing preparations for World Culture Festival, an event organised by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s foundation ‘The Art of Living’.

The Delhi Chief Minister, who had been – for a very long time – conspicuously silent on the issue, finally tweeted in support of the event on Thursday evening.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT), which took Art of Living to task for causing severe harm to the environment, also fined Delhi government’s council for pollution control for not taking appropriate action. It imposed a fine of Rs 5 crore on Art of Living and many other government departments. The NGT, therefore, has not given a free reign to the festival.

Kejriwal Welcomes the Festival Despite NGT’s Displeasure

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has expressed support for the festival despite the NGT showing its displeasure with the imposition of a fine on the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC).

In his tweet he says,

The tweet seems to be written in the spirit of ‘all’s well that ends well’, an odd sentiment given the severe repercussions of the festival, both on the Yamuna floodplains as well as the protesting local farmers.

Kejriwal, who had been silent on the issue thus far despite controversies, came out in support of it the moment NGT passed its verdict.

On Friday, the office of the Chief Minister confirmed that Kejriwal will be attending the closing ceremony of World Culture Festival.

Kapil Mishra Also Expresses Support

Kapil Mishra with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. (Photo Courtesy: <a href="https://twitter.com/KapilMishraAAP">Twitter/@KapilMishraAAP</a>)
Kapil Mishra with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. (Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@KapilMishraAAP)

Kapil Mishra, the Chairman of Delhi Jal Board, also took to Twitter moments after the NGT’s verdict to welcome all guests attending the World Culture Festival.

He said that he was in favour of the festival from the very beginning.

More Yamuna-Side Events in the Offing?

Kapil Mishra, in a reply to veteran journalist Richa Anirudh’s tweet, expressed his full support for the festival. He also said that more events should be organised on the banks of rivers.

This brings us to our next question: does the World Culture Festival foretell a trend of organising more events with heavy environmental costs? This is what Kapil Mishra had to say about the matter:

Kapil Mishra’s Letter to the Ministry of Defence

Kapil Mishra wrote a letter to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar requesting the construction of an additional pontoon bridge at the site of the World Culture Festival.

Kapil Mishra’s letter to Minister of Defence Manohar Parrikar.
Kapil Mishra’s letter to Minister of Defence Manohar Parrikar.

What the NGT Has to Say

During the hearing, NGT raised question on the easy permission granted to the AOL foundation for World Culture Festival by every department involved.

NGT waved off Delhi Pollution Control Committee’s appeal where DPCC washed its hands off the festival, claiming that the matter does not involve the committee and it isn’t bound by law to answer to the NGT.

NGT replied to DPCC by invoking Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act 1974, Articles 35 and 33A, under which the DPCC failed to perform its function.

The court slapped a fine of Rs 1 Lakh on DPCC on this basis.

World Culture Festival All Set to Happen

The CM and ministers of Delhi government, who have always proclaimed their support for the disenfranchised and the exploited from the rooftops, seem to have, in this case, turned a blind eye not only to ecological destruction but also to the financial misery of the protesting local farmers and labourers.

Kejriwal Responds to The Quint’s Report

Had AOL contacted us, we would have recommended an alternative venue, one with no damaging consequences to the environment. Anyway, this land belongs to the DDA and thus the matter is out of Delhi government’s jurisdiction.
Delhi CM’s Office