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“Eco-Sikh” leads Indian campaign to save the Kali Bein river

November 21, 2007:

Sant Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal at the Kali Bein river front (A Tribune Photo).

A Sikh “eco-baba” in India has sent an SOS to the Punjab and Haryana High Court in a bid to protect the state’s rivers from large-scale pollution by vested interests.

“Eco Baba” Balbir Singh Seechewal is known throughout the Punjab for spearheading the cleanup of the polluted and weed-ridden 160-km Kali Bein river through encouraging community participation.

In an interview with The Tribune —the largest selling daily in North India—in early November the baba said his Ek Onkar Charitable Trust had written to the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, drawing his attention to the large-scale pollution in Satluj, Kali Bein and Chitti Bein.

“The judiciary must step in as other organs of the government seem to have let us down,” he told the journalist, stating that councils, industries and large-scale farmers were discharging polluted water into the rivers. This was catastrophic, both for the environment and for the tens of thousands of people living along the rivers.

Ek Onkar symbol.
Since the legislature and executive had failed to perform their duties, he said, it had become the duty of the judiciary to direct the relevant authorities to protect the rivers.

The Ek Onkar – a Sikh symbol representing the unity of God is commonly inscribed on Sikh Gurudwaras, or temples - trust has commited to the upgrade sewage systems in 22 small towns and villages, so they had no need to let their polluted water flow into Kali Bein. The intention is for the Kali Bein to become a model for other similar projects.

The Eco Baba has not stopped just at the organic farming. In a move to support organic farming methods he has said publicly how fertilizers were playing havoc with soil and water resources. “Our efforts to use the recycled water for the agricultural purposes have born fruits in certain areas along the Kali Bein in the Sultanpur Lodhi area,” he said.

Former President APJ Abdul Kalam has declared the cleaning of the Kali Bein a “noble mission.”

Leaders of different political parties of Punjab praised Sant Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal for his efforts (A Tribune Photo).
Link here for the full Tribune story about the Eco Baba’s efforts to save the Kali Bein River.

Link here for another story on the Eco Baba and the need for increased political action.

Link here to learn about the eco-baba’s efforts to clean Budda Nullah in Jamalpur.

Link here for examples of Sikh ecology in action in the Projects Overview section of this website.

Link here for news on the Sikh tree planting ceremony at Khalsa Wood.

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