The ethereal World Cultural Festival organized by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living (AOL) witnessed around 37,000 artists, more than 3 million audiences and above all, the occasion was graced by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi who had expressed abundant adulation for the ideals and values that the event promoted. An event of great magnitude absolutely dedicated to Spirituality, Cultural Integration and promotion of Arts is subjected to criticism and controversy.
What was the issue with the World Cultural Event?
The World Cultural Festival was held on a plot that covered an area more than 1000 acres on the banks of the Yamuna River. A Delhi based Environmentalist Manoj Misra, had filed a petition in the court elaborating the potential ecological damage that the event could contribute to the already contaminated river. The environmentalist threw allegations at the organizers of the event stating that a large area of natural vegetation was being uprooted and cleared so as to build a 1000 foot stage and several other structures to accommodate audiences. Though the three-day event was allowed to be conducted, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) charged a lump sum fine of INR5 crores to be paid before the conduction of the event and demanded restoration of the plains of Yamuna.
Who were responsible for the issue?
Though the organizers deny the allegations and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar exclaimed in television news channels that “not a single tree had been cut down” the black mark falls on the event organizers and their delinquency in abiding by the legal and environmental requirements.
How can issues like these be avoided?
- Prior planning and thorough checking of all the legal documents that are required to be signed or followed plays a critical role in order to shun problems.
- Approaching a legal advisor is highly recommended before conducting an event on a large scale.
- All event organizers are expected to hold up to date and adequate Public Liability Insurance for their event. Event organizers must also make sure that any equipment hired is also insured against loss or damage.
- Some events that would have more than 500 audience would require a Premise License. If it is lesser than 500 people and does not go beyond 96 hours it would need a Temporary Event Notice (TEN).
- A Risk Management Team must be deployed for your large scale event. A comprehensive risk assessment is mandatory for ensuring the safety of the stakeholders of the event and this must be performed well before the conduction of the event.
Moral of the Story for Event Organizers
An event organizer may be defined as a legal entity who is responsible for the event; the entity who has taken public liability insurance for the event. Usually, this would be the leaders of the organization conducting the event. Legal liability and responsibilities are central to the conduction of an event and it is the duty of the organizers to ensure that the documents submitted is commensurate with the legal, ethical and environmental requirements. A smart organizer would seek legal assistance so that he doesn’t miss out on anything important and would proof read all the legal documents.