- Kapil Mishra mocked the report that culture fest ravaged the Yamuna
- He has invited Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to hold the fest at the same venue
- He also feels a river can't be revived by "keeping it untouchable"
Unfazed by the alarming revelations that it will cost about Rs 42 crore and 10 years to rehabilitate Yamuna riverbed, Mr Mishra laughed at the report and 10 years, saying it's not that earlier the Yamuna riverbed was in the pink of health. "It is almost as if dolphins used to swim in the Yamuna before the World Culture Festival. Tourists from all over the world used to come and marvel at it. At that point Sri Sri came and poured gutters into the pristine river. He damaged it so much that it will take 10 years to restore it," he said.
Mr Mishra, who claims to be a Yamuna activist, hit out at people "who believe" that the river can be revived by "keeping it untouchable". "History says whenever people and societies are linked to rivers, festivals are organised, rivers remain clean and pristine. I feel that the culture festival should be held only the banks of the Yamuna. Again and again," he said.
After the expert committee presented it its assessment report to the National Green Tribunal yesterday, the Art of Living Foundation called it a conspiracy. "We have been victims of a conspiracy. And we will fight for the truth to come out. We have never caused any damage to the environment but have in fact worked for preserving and reviving it through various environment-related projects over the years."
The foundation had also dismissed reports that the three-day festival in March "completely destroyed and not simply damaged the riverbed" as fraud.
Yamuna's dissolved oxygen (DO) level that supports aquatic life has plummeted to zero at different points along the river's journey through the national capital, a Delhi Pollution Control Committee study found last year.
(With inputs from PTI)