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Must the Show Go On?

The exception made for the Art of Living Foundation sets a disastrous precedent.

The show must go on because it is too late to stop it. In effect, that is how the National Green Tribunal (NGT) ruled on a petition filed by former forestry official Manoj Misra challenging the mega-event organised by the Art of Living (AOL) Foundation on the ecologically fragile floodplains of the Yamuna River from 11–13 March 2016. If the matter was not so serious, one could view it almost as comedy or farce.

Here we have a god-man approaching a government that believes not just in him but in many others like him. He asks for a few acres on the banks of the Yamuna to hold an event. This is granted without a second thought. In addition, Rs 2.25 crore are released from government funds to defer costs for what is a private function. No questions are asked when the area of land occupied balloons from the 70 odd acres—for which permission was granted—to 1,000 acres. No eyebrows are raised when the footfall of a couple of lakhs a day suddenly becomes a few millions. Additionally, the army is ordered to build pontoon bridges (without payment); apparently no system exists to charge a private party for such favours. And so the show goes on until it is almost tripped by a concerned individual and the NGT.

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