This is the story of one Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal and a riverbed named Kali Bein. The holy person from India has an inspiring story about he breathed new life into the riverbed almost single-handedly. Here is a story of river cleaning that the world looks up to.
It was the start of the new century when Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal took a momentous decision – cleaning the riverbed named Kali Bein that is right next to the village he lives in. His plan was crazy. But it was an immensely inspiring one. So much so, that this army consisting of only himself soon turned to a full platoon of volunteers. Then, the mission of epic proportions started.
Baba’s River Cleaning Had Started Small
When he was just starting out, Baba did not imagine that the river cleaning he was doing would spread enough to be the start of a whole movement. Of course, he was the one leading it. The movement of river cleaning would result in bringing back to life a stretch of 160 km along the river named Kali Bein. The state in question is Punjab, which you might have heard for sparking a revolution in food for India.
In a recent interview, the Indian holy man was asked about his relation with Kali Bein. He pointed to Guru Nanak attaining enlightenment after taking a bath in the river. Guru Nanak is one of the historical proponents of Sikhism, the religion that the Baba follows. Hence, he explains, that the Kali Bein holds is extremely important to the Sikhs (the followers of Sikhism). Apart from the religious connection, the Kali Bein is moreover a significant lifeline for most of the farmers in the state. They number well in the thousands.
Baba Balbir, however, used to believe that rivers can naturally clean themselves. He recounts how about half a century ago, all the rivers in the state were clean. However, he notes, that the problem began when humans arrived and started dumping their waste in them. He points out some examples such as industrialization, rampant fertilizer use, dumping sewage in tonnes, and more. This has caused the rivers harm and led to them being toxic. He also points out that the groundwater has been polluted as well.
So, his mission for river cleaning so far included educating thousands, especially those living in the Punjab villages. The lessons had an extra focus on treating water and cleaning rivers. For Kali Bein, silt and water hyacinth were cleared. Beautification was carried out for the banks. Also, clear paths were built. Sewage was directed somewhere else. Of course, there was no force or unnatural methods involved in all this.
Balbir Singh Is Still Changing Ways
As the bed of the river was cleared, the people saw natural springs come up again. The river began filling up as well. It took six years of immense work for the water to be usable again. Meanwhile, word had spread. The prodigious Times Magazine heard of it and featured Baba Balbir Singh as one of 2008’s “Heroes of Environment”.
Today, the whole world studies his efforts in river cleaning. However, Eco Baba remains grounded. He prides his work after it was called one of the finest achievements of India by then-President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. Now, even the enormous Ganges is being cleared following Baba’s methods. Of course, Baba wishes all Indian rivers will eventually get the same treatment.
For his message, he requests those who come after us to take heed of nature’s importance and be respectful of the environment. He reminds us that mankind will not survive without water. Furthermore, apart from this project of river cleaning, Singh had also built schools especially for the poor, and works on planting trees as well as teaching people about the environment. Truly an inspiration. Here’s the link to his organization.