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

Missed call drive for VVPAT verification follows online plea to "pressure" poll panel

By Our Representative
Several political activists have begun a new campaign, asking concerned citizens to give a missed call on 9667655855 to “support the demand that 2019 Loksabha elections must be declared only after verification of 50% electronic voting machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts.” The effort, supported by civil society networks across India, is meant to "further pressure" India's election machinery to ensure that the poll outcome becomes more transparent.

Now, top Gujarat "litterateur" close to Modi says: Godse was patriot, so was Gandhi

By Rajiv Shah
A little over a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticized BJP candidate from Bhopal Pragya Thakur for calling Nathuram Godse a patriot saying he would never forgive her for the remark, a top Sangh Parivar ideologue, known to close to Modi in Gujarat, has supported her, saying her statement should be seen “within a context.” Thakur won from Bhopal by more than 3.5 lakh votes defeating her nearest rival, veteran Congressman and ex-Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh.

Opposition refuses to legally challenge EVMs amidst plans of "back to ballot" protest

Counterview Desk
Even as opposition to the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) allegedly to rig polls is growing, a group of prominent citizens who have come together to form the EVM Virodhi Rashtriya Jan Andolan has controversially called for a national protest against EVMs on May 30, demanding future elections should be held only on ballot paper.

When a Pak scribe said Modi has 'proved' Jinnah’s two nation theory right...

By Zafar Agha*
It was around nine in the morning on May 24, 2019, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi stormed the Lok Sabha with 300-plus MPs. It was a call from a journalist friend, Muzamal Suhrawardy, from Lahore, Pakistan. I ignored the call. We liberals had a depressing day the previous evening as the opposition to Modi and BJP collapsed. The results belied reports from the ground and even assessments made by colleagues.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad "declared support" to two-nation theory in 1937, followed by Jinnah three years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

It's now official: Akshay Kumar has not been conferred honorary Canadian citizenship

By Our Representative
It is now official. Super-star Akshay Kumar has not been conferred any honorary citizenship by Canadian authorities, as claimed by him ahead of the 2019 elections. In reply to a query by Roshan Shah, who is a Canadian citizen living in Waterloo, Ontario, and belongs to Ahmedabad, the country’s authorities dealing with issues related with immigration, refugees and citizenship in Canada have said that only six persons have so far been granted honorary citizenship.

Govt of India overestimated GDP by 2.5%, must restore reputational damage: Ex-CEA

By Rajiv Shah
Top economist Arvind Subramanian has said that changes brought about by the Government of India in data sources and methodology for estimating the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) since 2011-12 “has led to a significant overestimation of growth”. While official estimates place annual average GDP growth between 2011-12 and 2016-17 at about 7 percent, the actual growth may have been 4½ percent, ranging from 3 ½ to 5 ½ percent during the period, he adds.

Common thread of Modi, political Hinduism, nationalism? 'Contest' of ideas isn't over

By Salman Khurshid*
Losing the 2019 election and that too in a somewhat extreme manner has confronted us with unexpected challenges: Our leadership has naturally taken it very hard and to heart but with suggested options that we cannot imagine or contemplate. Hopefully the emotions will settle soon and give us the direction to pick up the pieces and march again.

If EC's credibility is under question, shouldn't one "assume" EVMs might be tampered?

Counterview Desk
Gauhar Raza, scientist, documentary film maker and poet; senior human rights activist Shabnam Hashmi of the Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD); military veteran Major Priyadarshi Chowdhury (retd); and Sucheta De and Sandeep Saurav of the All India Students' Association (AISA), have asked “individuals, organisations and people's movements” to send their endorsement to an appeal they have prepared on Electronic Voting Machine (EVM).

Will minorities in India be 2nd class citizens? Wake up call: Be a 'communicating' Church

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
India today is at a defining moment of her history. There is so much that has taken place in the past five years (and particularly in the last ten days)- that several citizens of the country are genuinely concerned about the future of the country! Will democracy survive? Will key elements of the Constitution be changed?