As the holy city of Anandpur Sahib prepares to celebrate its 350th anniversary starting June 19, Washington-based non-government organisation (NGO) EcoSikh has appealed to the authorities to work towards making it an "eco-friendly and sustainable" city.
Considered the second most important city for Sikhs after Amritsar, Anandpur Sahib "should be declared a 'green city' and further development of this sacred city should be based on sustainable planning," said Dr Rajwant Singh, president of EcoSikh, in Washington.
Guru Teg Bahadur, the ninth guru of the Sikhs, purchased the land in 1665 and established Anandpur Sahib. In 1699, the tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh, established the Khalsa (pure) to give a separate entity to the Sikhs. The city also houses Takht Kesgarh Sahib, one of five seats of authority in Sikhism, in addition to many other sites related to the ninth and tenth gurus.
Construction around the sacred sites should be restricted and regulated, Rajwant Singh said. "Too many buildings and serais (inns) are making it a concrete jungle, spoiling its serene natural environment," he added in an appeal to the Punjab government and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC).
Rainwater harvesting, wastewater management, garbage disposal and sanitation, solar-based energy production, and pollution-free public transportation should become top priorities, he suggested. EcoSikh convener Ranjodh Singh asked the Punjab government to declare Anandpur Sahib "plastic-free" before June 19.
Gurdwara Patalpuri with hundreds of acres of land under cultivation can easily be converted for herbal production through organic methods, Rajwant Singh suggested. A very low-cost food-processing unit can also be established.
EcoSikh is working with national and international organisations to bring technology and planning to make Nanded, another sacred city for Sikhs in Maharashtra, an eco-friendly city, he said.
Through its Eco-Amritsar initiative, the organisation would be celebrating the 437th Amritsar foundation day on June 27 to create awareness about the long-term ecology of the holy city.