Stop Holding Polluting Festivals on Imperiled Indian River

Target: Judicial Members of the National Green Tribunal

Goal: Do not allow massive festivals to be held on the banks of the highly polluted and environmentally unstable Yamuna River.

Thousands of people congregated in New Delhi recently for a massive cultural festival that had highly damaging repercussions for its venue, the banks of the polluted Yamuna River. A huge stage was constructed on the bank of the river, and the festival occupied an area as large as six football fields. Hindu spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living foundation chose to go forward with the location despite fierce opposition from environmentalists who feared that the festival would cause irreversible damage to the river’s ecosystem.

The Yamuna River is one of the most polluted rivers in the world due to its proximity to New Delhi, which dumps over 50 percent of its waste into the water, and currently requires a massive clean-up effort to even begin to restore its floodplain and wildlife. A massive event like the World Culture Festival is certain to leave a footprint that will only add to the damage that has already been done, and should never be held in such an environmentally unstable area. Activists who protested the festival argued that it violated a court-approved Revitalization Project that discouraged any clearing of vegetation, dumping of debris, leveling of the floodplain, or any construction that might have damaging effects on biodiversity.

India’s environmental court, the National Green Tribunal, fined the Art of Living foundation 50 million Indian rupees but ultimately permitted them to go ahead with the event without demanding a change in location. The festival itself held a very positive message of world peace and unanimity, but we cannot have peace on earth without first protecting the earth itself. Sign the petition below to demand that India’s environmental court takes a stronger stance on protecting the Yamuna River in the future, and urge them to never again allow such a massive event to put the river’s ecosystem at risk.


Dear Justices of the National Green Tribunal,

The World Culture Festival, a massive event organized by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living foundation, was recently held on the banks of the highly polluted Yamuna River despite protests from environmental activists. A festival of this scale is certain to have damaging repercussions on such an environmentally unstable area with a vulnerable ecosystem, and should have been relocated to a different site.

The Yamuna River is one of the most polluted rivers in the world, and requires a serious restoration effort in order to salvage its wildlife and biodiversity. The World Culture Festival was held in direct violation of a court-approved Revitalization Project that condoned any clearing of vegetation, dumping of debris, and leveling of the floodplain that might have a damaging effect on the river’s ecosystem. This river needs to be protected if we have any hope of combating its destructive pollution.

I am urging you to take a strong stance in enforcing the protection of the Yamuna River. Please take action to stop large events like the World Culture Festival from being held on the banks of this polluted river in the future, and do not allow its vulnerable ecosystem to be put at further risk.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Dan Kit

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