Statement by The Art of Living

28th February 2016

"The Art of Living has a huge regard for the environment. We have never violated nor do we have any intention to violate any laws of the country. We have followed and further undertake to follow all the guidelines, recommendations, directions of the honourable court and the authorities extending us the permission to hold the World Culture Festival. The Art of Living in strict adherence to the NGT direction has not done any construction/concretization at the World Culture Festival site. Further, we have used only eco-friendly material like wood, mud, cloth, and scaffolding towards building a temporary stage for the purpose of holding a three-day festival. The Art of Living, under Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, has been tirelessly working since 35 years now for environmental good which specifically includes work done towards restoration of dying rivers in the country along with the huge work done by thousands of Art of Living volunteers in Meri Dilli Meri Yamuna campaign in 2010. During this campaign exceptional mass awareness was built up among Delhi citizens to save the river Yamuna”.

Details of work being undertaken on site for World Culture Festival 2016

  • When the site of the festival was identified in December 2015, there was already a massive dumping of construction debris spread over 25 acres of land which was brought to the notice of the DDA by The Art of Living on December 15, 2015 along with pictures of this massive debris/malba at the site. Only upon the grant of permission from the authorities/DDA in its letter dated 21st Dec 2015, The Art of Living started the process of removal/clearing of the said debris from December 22nd 2015 till date. We have not blocked any channel of river Yamuna by throwing any debris into it. Whatever debris is there is what was already lying there/brought in by the local villagers to create a sort of passage for their movement. The construction debris/malba was lying there from before and the rest of it may be from the adjoining construction activity.
  • Further, the entire material used for this temporary construction is eco-friendly which will not cause damage to the river Yamuna or the environment. The stage is temporary in nature and every bit of it will be removed by The Art of Living after the event is over. There are no concrete roads that have been made at the venue. Even the ramps made at the venue are only temporary and made of mud involving ZERO concrete.
  • We have not cleared any greenery or levelled the area by dumping any construction debris as alleged. The material used towards construction of the temporary stage is not in any manner embedded in the river bed. Significantly, more than 512 tons of garbage and toxic material was physically cleared by our volunteers from the river Yamuna to breathe life into it as part of the Meri Dilli Meri Yamuna campaign. 
  • The Art of Living has not made any permanent structure or any construction at the site and personally commits/undertakes to clear all the temporary structures being set up immediately after the event is over, ensuring that the place is left cleaner and more beautified than before.
  • The program venue is at a safe distance from the river bank as promised to the authorities and we are installing 650 bio toilets to ensure that none of the waste is passed on to river Yamuna.
  • The entire event also revolves around the river Yamuna by creating awareness among the people of the importance of the river so that it is not further polluted. The temporary pontoon bridges also are being built under proper permission from the authorities.
  • No parking area has been created on the flood plains as alleged. Only a temporary pathway has been created to help people reach the venue.
  • This is only a temporary construction and if we look back, all festivals have been happening on the banks of rivers since ages like the Kumbh Mela is happening every six to twelve years next to the river Ganga. So this is like a Kumbh Mela where thousands of people will gather for a greater good. Unlike the Kumbh, which goes on for almost 2 months and every possible arrangements are made for people to stay there, here in the 3-day event people are not even staying there. They will be just coming in for the festival for few hours every day on all the 3 days.