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SRI-SRI-VENUE2The opposition on Wednesday criticised the government in the Rajya Sabha for using army personnel for a three-day World Cultural Festival being organised by Art of Living on the Yamuna floodplains here.

The issue was raised by Sharad Yadav (JD-U) and other members during Zero Hour.

Amid ruckus, CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury said it was “highly irregular” that the services of Indian Army personnel were enlisted for a “private event”.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said army deployment was from security point of view.

“We are discussing this issue when the National Green Tribunal is hearing the case…,” he said, asserting the government is committed for environmental protection of either the Ganga or the Yamuna.

“To doubt the intent of organisers will not be fair,” Naqvi said.

Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said he was concerned about the event as Delhi Police had also raised security concerns.


Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who is Leader of the House, said it was not proper to raise the issue in the Rajya Sabha when a tribunal is hearing it.

“Rule 69 makes it absolutely clear that when a tribunal is hearing …it cannot be raised,” Jaitley said. Opposition members, however, remained dissatisfied.

The National Green Tribunal will continue with the hearing on Wednesday as the ministry of water resources, Art of Living and Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) have sought more time to explain their side of the case.

SRI-SRI-EVENT-2The Art of Living Foundation on Tuesday told the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that it did not conduct any environment impact study before deciding to hold the World Culture Festival on the ecologically-sensitive Yamuna flood plains here.

“We have got permissions from more than 30 departments and ministries for this event. Everyone has given us a go-ahead,” said Art of Living’s lawyer Akashama Nath.

“How could we carry out a study when the environment ministry did not ask for it?” she said on being asked about the study report by the NGT.

Talking to reporters after Tuesday’s proceedings, Nath said she insisted that the environment ministry categorically stated the Art of Living foundation was not violating any law while organising the event.

The festival, to be organised by spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar-headed Art of Living Foundation, is scheduled to be held from March 11 to 13 on a site which considered to be part of the environmentally sensitive flood plains of the Yamuna river.