President to skip Art of Living event

President Pranab Mukherjee would not attend a cultural festival being organised by the Art of Living Foundation later this week, a Rashtrapati Bhavan official said on Monday.

According to Art of Living, the President had agreed to give the valedictory speech at the World Culture Festival, which will be held on the Yamuna floodplains in east Delhi from March 11 to 13.

President Pranab Mukherjee

In the posters, hoardings and pamphlets put up and distributed across the National Capital Region, the programme has its schedule inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and closing speech by the President.

However, a Rashtrapati Bhavan source said on Monday that Mr. Mukherjee would not attend the event, which has come under the scanner of National Green Tribunal (NGT) for alleged violation of environmental norms.

The NGT is hearing a case for shifting the venue as construction is banned on the floodplains.

Meanwhile, Art of Living insisted that it was only putting up temporary structures on the 1,000-acre site.

Mamta Kail, an Art of Living volunteer at the site, said “We have not dug one inch of ground. The stage is 7 acres in size, and is completely eco-friendly. No cement had been used.”

The event, which is being organised to mark the 35 anniversary of the Foundation, is expected to draw 35 lakh people.