NEW DELHI: Art of Living guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, under fire for organising a massive event on the Yamuna floodplain, today said his organisation will build a "biodiversity park" in that area and rubbished allegations of ecological harm.
|- Army Assisting Art of Living Programme for Public Safety|
Ravi Shankar told reporters here that not a single tree has been cut in the run up to the World Cultural Festival to be held between March 11-13 and that four trees have only been trimmed in the riverine area.
"Villagers said that their buffaloes never went near the water in the past. Now I have been informed by the them that those buffaloes have entered the water. The villagers are very happy.
"We will leave the place after making a biodiversity park there. In the past, our volunteers have brought out 512 tonne of garbage from Yamuna. We have not cut any trees, have just trimmed four. We want a clean Yamuna and we care about the environment," Ravi Shankar said.
The event, slated to take place between March 11-13 on the west bank of Yamuna floodplain near DND flyover, has been organised to celebrate 35 years of The Art of Living. It is being supported by the Centre and the Delhi government among others, and is expected to attract around 35 lakh people.
It has come under the scanner of National Green Tribunal after a set of petitions were filed demanding its cancellation over concerns of potential permanent damage to the riverbed.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to inaugurate the event on Friday and President Pranab Mukherjee was to attend the valedictory function on Sunday.
However, Mukherjee yesterday pulled out of the event in the wake of controversy citing "unavoidable circumstances".