Sri Sri's Art of Living row: All you need to know about controversy-ridden event

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It looks like controversy surrounding Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living function will not be over anytime soon.

Hours after cultural extravaganza drew sharp crticism from some activists, now President reportedly has announced that he will not attend three day function starting from Friday, March 11.

Art of Living controversy: Explained

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to inaugurate event on Friday and the President was to attend the valedictory function on Sunday.

Here are all the facts you need to know about the controversy.

Art of Living function

  • Three day event has been organised on the west bank of Yamuna to celebrate 35 years of the foundation.
  • More than 35 lakh people including many dignitaries are likely to attend the function
  • The Art of Living foundation, which is organising the function, will have yoga and meditation sessions, peace prayers by Sanskrit scholars and traditional cultural performances from around the world.
  • Army has built a 'floating bridge' for the event.

What is the controversy?

  • Some environment activists are not happy with the event as they feel that function will have a deep impact on the Yamuna flood plains.
  • These activists filed petition to National Green Tribunal, a qusai judicial body on environmental issues to stop the event. NGT to hear the petition on Tuesday.
  • Experts are also raising concerns about the likely damage to the environment that may be caused by holding it on the flood plains of the already polluted river in east Delhi.

NGT issued notice to Delhi Govt

  • Earlier, the green panel had also issued notices to the Delhi government, Delhi Development Authority and the foundation on another plea seeking stoppage of ongoing construction work on the flood plains.
  • It had also constituted an expert committee headed by Water Resources Secretary Shashi Shekhar to inspect the site of the proposed festival.

What AOL is saying?

  • However, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has defended the event."I would have received a red carpet welcome in any other country for holding such an event", Sri Sri said.
  • Denying all the claims of activists, Sri Sri further said that NGT report is biased. 'Our function won't have any bad impact on envirnoment", he said.

'Pontoon bridge' for the function

  • A pontoon bridge has been made by Army to facilitate movement of lakhs of people who are expected to attend the controversy-ridden mega event.
  • People on social media are raising fingers at government asking what's the need of the bridge. However Army said that it has been done to meet with any emergency situation like stampede.
  • They also put up the argument that Army has been used during Kumbh Mela and even the Commonwealth Games.
  • When asked about the same, a Defence Ministry official said, "Lakhs of people are expected to turn up. There is a question of law and order and also fears of stampede.
  • Permission has been granted by concerned authorities to host the event. If a permission has been given, it is the responsibility of the government to ensure everything is run smoothly".
  • It is being said that organisers had approached the Defence Ministry seeking six such bridges but the Army was asked to erect only one.

(With inputs from PTI)

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