March 17th, 2016
Image Courtesy: huffpost | googleusercontent | ibtimes.co.uk
The World Culture Festival a.k.a the “cultural Olympics” hosted by Sri Sri Ravi’s AOL was a visual spectacle, to say the least. As part of the spectacle were many artists, common people, volunteers and, of course, our very own politicians. Among the politicians was Mr Arvind Kejriwal who had lavished praise on Sri Sri Ravi’s Art Of Living and their volunteers. It is unclear if he was playing good host or playing politics on the stage of culture fest. Whatever be the reason, Arvind Kejriwal has shown complete disdain for the NGT’s observation on the potential environmental impact due to the event on the flood plains of Yamuna. Adding to this the environmental tribunal had rapped the Delhi government for various lapses in the clearance process.
To put in perspective the lapses committed by Arvind Kejriwal, let us look into some of the observations and penalties levied by the NGT which he conveniently ignored.
- The tribunal also levied fines of Rs 5 lakh and Rs 1 lakh, respectively, on the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) for lapses while granting clearances.
- It came down heavily on DDA and DPCC and termed as “unacceptable” the Union Environment Ministry’s submission that AOL did not require environmental clearance for the event.
- DDA stuck to its stand that the permission it had granted was legal as the event was of a recreational nature. But the tribunal pointed out that the construction of roads, ramps, pontoon bridges, accumulation of debris, and the alteration of topography and the natural flow of the Yamuna could not be viewed as a cultural or recreational activity.
- Not to mention the Rs 5 crore fine NGT had ordered Sri Sri Ravi to pay for the environmental impact of the culture fest that lit up the sky and littered the Yamuna river.
As a Chief Minister, he could take stock of NGT’s observations and made corrective measures instead of attending the event and praising the organisers who were penalised by the Green Tribunal. There was the lack of leadership exhibited by Mr Kejriwal, lack of courage and conviction to stand up for the environment and particularly the utterly polluted Yamuna, instead, the chief Minister chose to ride along the popularity of a personality. May be Arvind Kejriwal is slowly and surely morphing into the classical definition of an Indian politician, which is perfectly fine, just that it would be a complete mockery of the mandate of the people of Delhi who had placed their faith in him to be a stand out politician and not for being one among the lot. If the Chief Minister, Prime Minister and Home Minister attend an event castigated by the environmental tribunal, why would Sri Sri Ravi pay the fine. Not surprisingly, the organiser had the audacity to publicly declare he would not pay the fine. The way Mr. Arind Kejriwal had given into the organizer’s might undermined the authority of NGT, who have been one of the bulwarks in protecting the environment. The entire political class including Mr Kejriwal lavished praise on the perpetrators and consequentially tarnishing the dignity of independent competent tribunals and judgements is a sad precedent for democracy.
Deafening Silence On The Plight Of The Farmers
The deafening silence of the Chief Minister on the plight of farmers who had lost their crops and investment due to the event is appalling, to say the least. Mr Kejriwal perhaps did not realize the speech he made was on the bulldozed crops of farmers. To put in perspective of the magnitude of the plight, around 80 farmers went on a hunger strike opposite the Mayur Vihar Extension metro station in the Capital as their crops were bulldozed for the event. The farmers were given Rs 4000 per bigha as compensation against their crops razed to clear the lands for the hosting of the World Cultural Festival from March 11 to 13. The farmers are demanding more.
The Logical Indian demands the Delhi Chief Minister to make his environmental policy clear to the people, besides we demand the flood plains of Yamuna be restored to normalcy, the Delhi government to implement the orders issued by NGT in letter and spirit. The chief minister should pay adequate compensation to the farmers who lost their crops, the very crops which become our food.