By Tripada Bharati
The upcoming mammoth cultural fest of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has its own share of concerns and controversies, its defenses and counter arguments. Amidst furore for the past few days, the event finally gets green signal from National Green Tribunal. Apart from environmental concerns, another major controversy is the deployment of army to help out the preparations of this mega event.
Arguments are piling up against the use of army for such private affairs however big it may be and whatever ideology it may be riding on. Opposition parties are going hammer and tongs against army deployment and government seems to be on the back foot. Manohar Parrikar, the Defence Minister, has only one defense in this regard, saying the use of army was imperative in the light of Delhi Police’s fear about the likelihood of a stampede at the venue given the large size of possible visitors (which may be in several Lakhs) for the upcoming cultural event.
The deployment of army for such private extravaganzas, of course, raises serious questions. Primarily, A nation’s army is supposed to serve the nation and not particular influential persons/ godmen, who may be close to the ruling party at the helm. Army is indeed pulled in whenever there are natural catastrophes and such but then they do their bit for the sake of national service. Helping out one particular individual’s mega event is, by no means, can be said for the sake of nation.
The government, by extension, the Nation, bending in favour of one godman, belonging to one particular sect, naturally, put our country in a poor light when our constitution stands for secular values. Moreover, to press army into such private services suggest the use of army as a political tool which is indeed deprecating and unacceptable.
Besides all this, the mega scale preparation which involves construction of pontoon bridges, building of a gigantic multi level stage spread across several acres, to the construction of huts and tenements, VVIP’s enclaves – all on the floodplains of ecologically fragile Yamuna had the environmental alarm ringing.
National Green Tribunal took up the issue and amidst serious questions and discussions for the past few days, finally gave a nod for the event in lieu of a fine of Rs 5 Crore on Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living. However, Ravi Shankar has refused to pay the fine and has said that he will contest the decision in the Supreme Court. NGT has also fined DDA and Delhi Pollution Control Board for failing to discharge their duties.
The clearance of this mega project and the using of Army for the event point out to some serious entanglements on the part of the government and call upon adequate answering by them. Moreover, the otherwise vocal Delhi’s Chief Minister, Arvind Kejariwal’s absolute silence on this vital issue concerning Yamuna and Delhites certainly raises eyebrows.
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