New Delhi: Heaps of garbage are a common sight at the Yamuna floodplains, where the controversial World Culture Festival was organised by spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar’s Art of Living (AOL) Foundation this past weekend. The three-day extravaganza ended on Sunday evening with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal describing it as “historic, divine and amazing” and pledging that his government will make efforts to clean the Yamuna.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had given the organisers the go-ahead after accusing them of destroying vegetation and ruining the river’s fragile ecosystem. The NGT also slapped a fine of Rs five crore on the organisers. The Delhi High Court also described the festival — one that was organised to celebrate the AOL’s 35 years of service to “humanity, spirituality and human values” — as an “ecological disaster”.
Plastic bottles, empty packets of eatables, polythene sheets, polystyrene paper plates and other bits of trash can be found lying all over the riverbed that has been hardened and flattened, as you can see in the photographs below:
Atika Dondiyal, an AOL spokesperso,n told Firstpost that the cleaning work has been “contracted to Bharat Vikas Group (BVG)”, which also cleans the prime minister's house and Rashtrapati Bhavan, and that they (AOL) will leave the area “more beautiful than ever before because serving the humankind and environment is not their commitment, but in their nature”.
“The whole process of dismantling the structures will take two to three weeks and a few more days to clean up the entire area. I cannot specify the number of days because it depends on the debris that is left. We have hired a professional agency for this. But our volunteers are also full of a sense of duty that they are coming here and doing seva to make sure that everything is done properly,” she said.
“In fact, we had 300 Argentineans this morning cleaning up the whole place, picking up plastics, collecting water bottles and everything. People from other parts of India are here for two-three days. We have 10,000 volunteers in Delhi who organised the whole show. So, they will keep coming daily in groups to work day in and day out,” she added.
Though such a large number of volunteers were nowhere to be seen, around 20-30 people along with the cleaning agency’s men were seen collecting the trash left in the wake of the mega event. The sanitation workers, Firstpost spoke to, said denied getting help of such a large number of volunteers as being claimed. “We did not meet 300 volunteers collecting the trash since morning. Yes, as you can see few people are here who doing their bit to clean the area,” said an employee of the agency.
The agency, according to its staff, has got contract of cleaning the festival ground only, not the entire area.
Meanwhile, the police on Monday found the decomposed body of an unidentified male near the World Culture Festival site on Monday. According to the cops, prima facie it appears that the man was killed two or three days ago somewhere else, and the body was dumped just after the festival ended.