07/03/2016 7:28 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST

President Pranab Mukherjee To Skip Art Of Living Event

Hindustan Times via Getty Images
NEW DELHI, INDIA - MARCH 5: President Pranab Mukherjee during an inauguration of a National Conference on ‘Women Legislators: Building Resurgent India’ at Vigyan Bhawan, on March 5, 2016 in New Delhi, India. The aim of the event is to bring top women political leaders on a single platform. At least 300 women legislators from all over the country congregate for a two-day conference at Vigyan Bhavan with a bid to hone their skills further so as to contribute their might in the socio-economic progress of the country. (Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

President Pranab Mukherjee will not attend a festival being organised by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of Art of Living in the wake of the controversy over holding the three-day cultural function on the Yamuna flood plains in New Delhi beginning this Friday.

"The President cannot attend the function due to unavoidable circumstances," an official of the Rashtrapati Bhavan said here today.

Mukherjee had earlier agreed to attend the valedictory ceremony on Sunday.

While the organisers expect lakhs of people to attend the function, concerns have been raised by experts about the likely damage to the environment caused by holding it on the flood plains of the already polluted river in east Delhi.

The Art of Living foundation, which is organising the function, will have yoga and meditation sessions, peace prayers by Sanskrit scholars and traditional cultural performances from around the world.

The National Green Tribunal, which looks after the environmental issues, is hearing a petition which has claimed the organisers will release 'enzymes' into 17 drains that flow into the Yamuna for cleaning the river. A judgement is expected tomorrow.

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