World Environment Day: A Padma Shri awardee known worldwide working like helpless eco-activist | punjab | Hindustan Times
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World Environment Day: A Padma Shri awardee known worldwide working like helpless eco-activist

The man whose paeans are being sung across the world is being ignored by his own people. He is holding dharnas, giving representations to officials and just waiting for them to respond to his demands.

punjab Updated: Jun 05, 2017 09:15 IST
Aakanksha N Bhardwaj
Balbir Singh Seechewal is worried about the condition of Kala Sanghian drain that flows through Jalandhar city and is filled with sludge, filth, garbage and medical waste.
Balbir Singh Seechewal is worried about the condition of Kala Sanghian drain that flows through Jalandhar city and is filled with sludge, filth, garbage and medical waste.(HT Photo)

The alarming situation of Kali Bein, a filthy rivulet flowing through Sultanpur Lodhi, prompted a religious Sikh preacher to take upon himself to rejuvenate it. Balbir Singh Seechewal, who is now known at the international level as an environmentalist, was conferred the Padma Shri award this year. In 2008, he was included among the ‘Heroes of the Environment’ by the TIME magazine.

The then President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and Union minister for Union water resources Uma Bharti have also appreciated his work. But the irony is that the man whose paeans are being sung across the world is being ignored by his own people. He is holding dharnas, giving representations to officials and just waiting for them to respond to his demands.

Seechewal is now worried over the condition of Kala Sanghian drain which flows through Jalandhar city and is filled with sludge, filth, garbage and medical waste. He has been raising the issue for long.

Talking to HT, Seechewal said that untreated water is being thrown into the Kala Sanghian drain, which is ultimately polluting groundwater too. Also, sewage treatment plants that have been installed are not working with full capacity, he said, while adding that officials are not serious towards the issue and taking the matter lightly.

Asked if any officials of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) have come to meet him to discuss the issue, the environmentalist said with a heavy heart, “Jo main kehna, ohi sun lain, bahut hai. Aana taan kinne ai (It will be enough if they listen to what I say. I don’t expect them to come to me).”

Seechewal began his work with the Kali Bein, a 160-km rivulet, which was polluted to the extent that it was on the verge of dying. The presence of hyacinths and silt in it had made the situation worse. Seechewal, along with his followers, started cleaning the rivulet and successfully achieved his mission.

Seechewal is also known as ‘Road Baba’ because whenever he sees any road in bad condition, he along with his followers starts repairing it. He also gives free plants to visitors.