SustainabilityThe ‘Hero of Environment’ (awarded by ‘Time Magazine’) The Man Who Cleaned...

The ‘Hero of Environment’ (awarded by ‘Time Magazine’) The Man Who Cleaned 160km Long River Without Govt. Support Padma Shri-Balbir Singh Seechewal

Balbir Singh Seechewal, affectionately known as Eco Baba, who has dedicated his life to environmental conservation in Punjab. His story is one of perseverance, community mobilization, and a deep connection to the spiritual essence of his faith.

In 2000, Seechewal embarked on a mission to revive the Kali Bein, a 160 km long tributary of the Beas River. The river had been reduced to a polluted drain, choked by waste from 6 towns and 40 villages, rallied volunteers from over 24 villages.

Together, they embarked on a gigantic task:

  • Cleaning the riverbed: Clearing the hyacinth and silt that had accumulated for decades.
  • Restoring the flow: Building riverbanks and roads, ensuring the water flowed freely once again.
  • Public awareness campaign: Educating villagers on the importance of proper waste disposal and encouraging them to find alternative solutions.

Seechewal’s efforts were not limited to physical clean-up. He also:

Established an underground sewage system: A low-cost model, which collects sewage from ponds and treats it naturally for agricultural use.

Developed a solid waste treatment machine: This machine, developed under his guidance at=the Sant Avtar Singh Yadgari Technical Research Centre, separates heavy particles like plastic, glass, and iron from garbage.

His efforts have yielded impressive results:

  • The Kali Bein, once a polluted drain, now flows with clean water, attracting families for picnics and religious gatherings.
  • Water problems in the Doaba region of Punjab have been significantly reduced.
  • The river has been revitalized, restoring its natural springs and supporting biodiversity.

Seechewal’s commitment to environmental conservation extends beyond the Kali Bein. He is actively involved in:

  • Cleaning up other rivers and creeks: Leading initiatives to tackle pollution and promote a more systematic approach to river cleaning across Punjab.
  • Combating poverty and ignorance: Establishing schools, technical centers, and colleges, providing affordable education, particularly for girls and underprivileged communities.

For his extraordinary work, Balbir Singh Seechewal has received numerous accolades:

  • Padma Shri Award: India’s civilian award, bestowed in 2017.
  • Hero of Environment: Recognized by Time magazine, making him the only Indian and Asian to receive this honor.
  • Rajya Sabha MP 2022

Not only the environment, Sant Seechewal has worked for society as well trying to eradicate poverty, ignorance, superstition, atrocities against women. He has established schools, technical centres and degree colleges at different places, where not only advanced and technical education is provided at a very low cost to the girls and the poor slum dwellers, but moral and religious values are also taught to the students in order to make them better and balanced human beings.

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