The lure of grandeur : The Tribune India

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The lure of grandeur

It was perhaps too late for the country''s apex environmental court, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to stop Sri Sri Ravishankar''s mega show this weekend on Delhi''s Yamuna flood plains.



It was perhaps too late for the country's apex environmental court, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to stop Sri Sri Ravishankar's mega show this weekend on Delhi's Yamuna flood plains. It was the same case when the Supreme Court could not prevent the first violation. Then, a BJP-led government let a global religio-corporate group to build a complex of concrete. A stadium and metro terminals followed but were for the greater public good. Now, another BJP government has handed over vast proportions of Delhi's lung for a mega event packaged in the aura of spirituality and general goodness.  As the muted reactions of most politicians show, they have been happy to sup with gurus with deep pockets and affluent devotees scattered all over the world.  

Down the years, all parties have obliged new age gurus. But the Bharatiya Janata Party has a particularly strong urge to oblige god men. For all its claims to nationalism and devotion to the cause of the soldier, the Army was enlisted for the pre-event preparations. After Ramdev, Sri Sri is another god man with a visible increase in his political heft after he backed Narendra Modi in the the general elections. The first payback came this Republic Day with a Padma award. With the President and the Prime Minister by his side, the three-day jamboree would have heralded Sri Sri's arrival in Delhi's corridors of power. Till environmentalists spoilt the game, the list of attendees was an across-the-political-spectrum roll call and included even self-avowed rationalists like Arvind Kejriwal, and Akhilesh Yadav.

In compensation Sri Sri has promised to leave behind a biodiversity park, though his 2010 initiative to clean the Yamuna led nowhere. This foray, however, is of an altogether different dimension. The cost of temporary occupation in the home of 320 bird species and 200 plant varieties is immense. The damage to just 60 acres is estimated at over Rs. 100 crore which will offset by a Rs. 5 crore fine. Worse, the grand setting of acres of rolling farmland framed by the river will tempt the resourceful to follow suit. That then would be the end to Delhi's lungs.

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