Skip to main content

Sri Sri's World Cultural Festival may "adversely impact" Delhi's groundwater source, Yamuna floodplains

Counterview Desk
While the World Cultural Festival organized by Art of Living (AoL) of well-known spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has ended on the banks of Yamuna, there is no end to the controversy surrounding the alleged ecological damage it may have caused to Delhi. Well-known environmentalist Ravi Agrawal has said, “There is a myopic understanding of nature and its destruction that is on display at World Cultural Festival.”
In an interview, Agrawal, who is Director of Toxics Link, an environmental NGO in New Delhi, which has done extensive work and research on the Yamuna floodplains, has said, “The organisers of the World Cultural Festival do not understand wetland ecology. And when they say they haven’t cut any trees, it shows a limited understanding of what constitutes both nature and its destruction.”
Agrawal’s comments acquire significance, as the NGO which he represents has conducted two studies on the river and its floodplains; one on long-term multi-seasonal study on the toxicity in the river, which include the presence of chemicals and heavy metals, and the second, in association with the University of Sussex, to look at the contamination of vegetables grown around the river.”
Agrawal says, “Wetland ecology supports a particular kind of life structure which has an intimate relationship with both the water and the soil. The vegetation in wetlands is very different from the vegetation of a forest, so there are different types of trees that one would see here than in a forest, and animals who are a part of this complex biodiversity.”
Countering the AoL claim that it has used enzymes made by over 10,000 households across the country to clean the river, Agrawal says, “A foreign organism introduced in any ecological system is one of the most harmful things. It’s not like cleaning clothes with a new detergent.” He adds, it would be necessary to carry out “proper clearances and studies to understand which enzymes have to go where.”
Countering the claim that “only eco-friendly materials were used for construction”, Agrawal says, “This is a very delicate ecosphere and the intervention in itself is harmful. So it’s not a question of which material you use, but a matter of constructing in an area, which may not respond well to it.”
“Over and above this you have a large number of footfalls, which are further going to impact the ecology of the region. As a result of this pressure, it is going to take a few years to recover, just like a forest recovers after a fire. The three reasons stated above make it evident that the organisers don’t understand ecology”, Agrawal says.
Pointing out that the floodplain “is a water recharge area”, which is source of “nearly 30 % of Delhi's water”, Agrawal says, “If you do something to the flood plains, you’re reducing the water availability in the city.”
Agrawal underlines, “The Yamuna is a river with very little water in it and has an intensive city of 17 to 20 million people around it who are dependent on its water. Several court orders have been passed to ensure the longevity of the water source.”
According to Agrawal, “This festival is not going to help in the cleaning of the riverbank; it's dead because of sewage that is flowing into the river. Even if they manage the floodplain, the river is not going to get any cleaner because of this event. This mela is not a water filtration plant. The only way the river can be revitalised is by stopping the pollutants at the source.”

Comments

TRENDING

Impact of state repression? Kashmir's 65% people prefer independence: Cambridge study

By Rajiv Shah 
Even as the Government of India’s controversial move to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) into two union territories is not only refusing to down die but has acquired international dimensions, a recent study, published by the Cambridge University Press, has claimed “pro-independence attitudes” among that 65% of Kashmiris, warning, this sentiment worsens when the state machinery resorts “repressive violence”.

Congress' anti-democratic laws led to Modi govt's 'Constitutional' changes: Scholars

Counterview Desk
A large number of academics* said to be belonging to several Indian and international institutions, even as taking strong exception to the Narendra Modi government's alleged move to amend the Constitution through "illegitimate" means, have taken strong exception to their colleagues in academia who we have become "all too accustomed to adopting a calculated silence in the face of such indignities."

Dholera 'inundated': Gujarat govt tries selling low lying area as top smart city site

Counterview Desk
Even as the Dholera Special Investment Region Regional Development Authority (DSIRDA) of the Gujarat government was busy organising a junket for Gujarat-based journalists for the area sought to be sold as an ideal special investment region (SIR) for industrialists, well-known farmers' activist Sagar Rabari has wondered why no investor has so far agreed to put in money in an area situated in Ahmedabad district along the Gulf of Khambhat.

Kashmir normal? Schoolboys, teenagers being arbitrarily picked up, detained: Report

Counterview Desk
A four-person team, consisting of Jean Dr├Ęze, well-known development economist; Kavita Krishnan, who is with the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist); Maimoona Mollah of the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA); and Vimal Bhai of the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), back from a five-day fact-finding mission (August 9-13) from Kashmir, has said that people they spoke to “expressed their pain, anger, and sense of betrayal against the Government of India.”
In a report, “Kashmir Caged”, released along with a short eight-minute film, they said, the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, dissolution of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and bifurcating it into two Union Territories, is not being supported by anyone they met, except for BJP spokesperson on Kashmir affairs Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo, who claimed 46% vote share in J&K.
Excerpts from the report: When our flight landed, and the airlines staff announced that passeng…

Quit India Movement 'betrayal' and dubious role of Hindu Mahasabha, RSS leaders

By Shamsul Islam*
After the recent guillotine of Article 370, Hindutva ideologue Ram Madhav, while celebrating the occasion stated that it was honouring of the sacrifices of Dr Shyam Prasad Mukherjee and thousands others who laid down their lives for its removal. It is to be noted that Dr Mukherjee was a cadre of RSS and was groomed into a Hindutva leader by another Hindutva icon, VD Savarkar.

Modi's Gujarati mind? Why govt move to 'sell-off' defence PSUs isn't in national interest

By Sandeep Pandey*
The Standing Committee on Defence, 2017-18, of the 16th Lok Sabha highlights the idea of Buy Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured). The Committee expressed concern over the import content of equipments produced and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Ordnance Factories (OFs) and defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) because of the dependence it creates for military hardware on foreign suppliers.

Kashmir kayoed, bhakts 'jubilant': Much like crowds when Hitler purged Jews, Catholics

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
August 12, 2019 was the great festival of Eid al-Adha (incidentally, for Jews, Christians and Muslims – the sacrifice of Abraham is a very significant one); for the people of Kashmir however, this year Eid was a sad day indeed, what with the lockdown and communications blockade!

Central Gujarat effluent channel 'releasing' highly polluted industrial wastewater: PM told

Counterview Desk
Senior environmentalists of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), Vadodara, Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant, in an open letter to the Prime Minister, the Gujarat chief minister, the Gujarat chief secretary, and senior Government of India and Gujarat government officials dealing with environment, pollution and climate change have said that the authorities’ response their pleas to take action against the leakages and flow of polluted wastewater from the effluent channels of Central Gujarat industrial areas has met with complete inertia.

Hindus to be 'sent' to Kashmir? Despite Israeli settlements, peace eludes the region

By Anand K Sahay*
Curfew, news and communications blackout, transportation shut-down... News reports from Kashmir are worrying. So are the views relayed through the media, especially television. Old-fashioned repression seems to be consorting comfortably with expressions of concern “for our Kashmiri brethren”. We are looking at Orwell’s 1984 in the making.

Modi's Kashmir move meant to 'solidify' Hindu majoritarianism, 'demonize' Muslims

By Battini Rao*
The parliament of India on August 6 put its stamp of approval on bills abrogating article 370 and downgrading the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) to two union territories. When the representatives of the people of India were deciding the fate of the state, the people of J&K were forced into collective house arrests.