World Culture Festival begins, PM Modi in attendance

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New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday afternoon arrived at the venue of the World Culture Festival, a mega global event being organised on the banks of the river Yamuna, where thousands of people from India and abroad are expected to attend.

The three-day event, organised by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living, is expected to witness tens of thousands of people from around the world.

Marking the opening of the event, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other world dignitaries to the stage with colourful garlands.

Devotees from 155 countries are attending the programme. About 36,000 artistes from around the world will perform.

The National Green Tribunal on Thursday given the go-ahead to the organisers after they pledged to pay an initial amount of Rs 25 lakhs for mitigating any adverse impact on the Yamuna’s fragile floodplain.

PM Modi had confirmed his participation on Thursday.

Earlier in the day, rains lashed Delhi raising doubts whether the festival would pass smoothly since the wet weather could wreck havoc on the traffic.

“The minimum temperature recorded at 8.30 AM was 19 degrees Celsius, four notches above normal. The humidity was 80 per cent,” a MeT official said.

Weatherman had predicted light rains in several parts of Delhi.

An uneasy calm prevailed in the sprawling complex as foot soldiers of the Art of Living struggled to put up a good show.

The event has been mired in controversy for allegedly flouting the environmental regulations and degrading the ecology of the Yamuna floodplain.

In its promotional literature, the Art of Living Foundation had claimed that 35 lakh people would come.

The organisers had told the National Green Tribunal that they had spent Rs.25.63 crore for the event.