The Indian subcontinent is called the ‘land of rivers’ owing to the abundance of water bodies across the country. However, in the recent time, India is facing a major water crisis. Punjab, literally meaning the land of 5 rivers also is facing a similar situation. In such trying times, environmentalists like Balbir Singh have been taking up the charge of running the water conservation movement.
Indian rivers are considered to be sacred and are worshipped across the country. The Kali Bien river, a tributary of the Beas river, running across the state was also treated as a sacred water body. As the local folklore suggests, Guru Nanak Dev, the Sikh Guru took bath in the Kali Bien, during his stay in the Sultanpur Lodhi region. Many pilgrims, over the years have come to take bath in the river.
In the last few years, owing to the increase in population, people have treated this river for disposing garbage. Majority of the river had been drying up and the remaining parts were becoming a sewage dump. It is Balbir Singh, fondly called as Eco-Baba, who decided to take the matter in his own hands. To start with, he educated the local communities about river conservation. Gradually, a large number of volunteers came forward to clean the river.
Balbir Singh started a public awareness campaign in Punjab. He talked about the damage that untreated sewage is causing to the water bodies across the state. Balbir Singh also innovated the Seechewal model, that acted as an alternative to the sewage treatment plants. This cost-efficient model collected sewage water from the pond and treated it, so that it can be used for agriculture.
Due to extreme level pollution, there was major depletion in the quality of water that flowed into the state. The A-Grade water from the Sutlej river depletes to an E-Grade, by the time it reaches Ludhiana. Balbir Singh and a large group of volunteers have been cleaning up all the polluted river bodies. Their efforts in reclaiming the Kali Bien river have been quite successful. Today the river is not only clean, but it has also become a recreation center.
Balbir Singh and his volunteers have also begun the work of desilting the Sutlej river. Desilting the river will not only allow better flow of water across the state but also help in groundwater recharge. The volunteers or rather revolutionaries, who have been reclaiming the water bodies with efficiency are citizens just like us.
You can also contribute to making a difference. Take the Har Ek Boond pledge to make every drop of water count. Log onto www.republicworld.com or give a missed call on 1800 120 887788.