Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu backs Art of Living event

New Delhi: Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu today came out in support of world cultural festival being organised by Art of Living on Yamuna flood plains and dismissed controversies surrounding the event, saying it should not be politicised.

In a series of tweets, Naidu said it is an event to celebrate cultural diversity and "will bring glory to India".


Venkaiah Naidu

The Urban Development questioned the criticism over army building pontoon bridges for the event, saying there have been instances when the army has helped out during major congregations like Kumbh under previous governments.

"Unnecessary fuss abt army building pontoon bridge. In earlier regimes, several instances like Kumbh Mela,Sankranti in Nashik, Army did the same," Naidu said on Twitter.

He noted that 36,000 artistes participating in one event is in itself a record. "It's a cultural event to celebrate diversity. Let's celebrate and join d festival," he tweeted.

"World Culture Festival by Art of Living will bring glory to India. Let's not politicise this," he said in another tweet.

The three-day cultural extravaganza from today has been embroiled in controversy after environmentalists alleged that preparations for the event have damaged the ecology of Yamuna flood plains and demanded that it be stopped. The National Green Tribunal allowed the Art of Living of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to hold the festival but slapped a fine of Rs five crore.

The Tribunal was informed last evening that the organisers of the event were yet to obtain all clearances even as the spiritual leader said he would go to jail rather than pay a fine of Rs 5 crore.

The NGT bench, headed by chairperson Swatanter Kumar, had said law will take its course if the Art of Living fails to pay the fine.

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