EcoSikh Facilitates 440th Birthday of Amritsar!
Interfaith Participation Creates a Sense of Unity on Amritsar Foundation Day!
Amritsar, 27 June, 2017; Hundreds of people from all faiths marched at dawn, along with their faith leaders and representatives, in the ‘Walk for Amritsar’, organized by Eco-Amritsar under the tutelage of Washington based EcoSikh today, to mark the 440th anniversary of the city. Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jains and Sikhs walked together to mark this auspicious occasion. The entire gathering raised positive slogans and carried placards for the ecological upliftment of the holy city in consonance to the vision of Guru Ramdas ji.
Hundreds of people were engaged through social media campaign on Facebook and many youngsters worked for days to volunteer for the celebrations.
Sri Guru Ram Dass established the city as Chak Ramdasspur in 1577. It was envisioned to be a hamlet, created around the Golden Temple, in harmony with nature. The city was flush with gardens, commercial establishments and residential dwellings interwoven and in sustainable coexistence. However, that hamlet has now expanded to a bustling city of over 1.3 million citizens, with more than 40 million visitors each year.Lack of credible waster management and unchecked growth of three wheelers spewing out dangerous and poisonous gases has made Amritsar one of the 20 most polluted cities globally. Amritsar is facing severe environmental challenges. There is only 1% of forest area left in the city and the city is loosing 3 feet of underground water every year. Eco Amritsar team has initiated projects to involve schools, colleges, businesses and gurdwaras to take green steps like plantation drive, awareness campaigns and also promoting organic food.
The 5th annual ‘Walk For Amritsar’ today was a celebration of the cities existence as well as an introspection of the 5 year Eco Amritsar program (2013-2017). The program for clean & green environs, for a plastic free, water saving, sensible & responsible Amritsar was adopted by scores of NGO’s & supported by the district administration, SGPC, educational institutions and social welfare organisations.
The two-hour procession had participation from schools, colleges, NCC, Bhagat Puran Singh Pingalwara etc. A power-packed gatka by Chief Khalsa Diwan Orphanage, and a brilliant street play (Nukkad Natak) on irresponsible littering & defacement by the IVE school for the underprivileged, were performed at the commencement of the citizens gathering at Ram Bagh gardens. People from all over the world watched the live coverage on Facebook.
The event was chaired by Deputy Commissioner KS Sangha, who despite personal emergency, kept his promise to the citizens and returned to the city early morning. Speakers at the event expressed their pledges to work together for the betterment of the city. The proposal by Bhai Guriqbal Singh ji, to adopt two neigborhoods for cleaning & greening by each social organisation, was endorsed by Shri Indranuj of Iskon Hare Krishna Temple. Similarly, Father Vijay of the Diocese of Amritsar, Shri Abdul Noor President Majlis Ahrar Punjab (Amritsar Mosque), Colonel Commandant NCC Ashwini, were unanimous in their support to the cause.
While ecological warriors & organisations who have worked with EcoAmritsar 2013-2017 were presented saplings, the plantation program for this monsoon was inaugurated by ceremonial handover of 250 saplings to Palmgrove & Paradise green association representative Mona Mehra, and 100 saplings to Atamjit kaur. Scores of indigenous tree species were presented to citizens, organisations and children who pledged to look after them for at least one year.
The efforts of Ravneet Singh, Project Manager South Asia EcoSikh, and his team from Khalsa Colleges, Basics of Sikhi & youthful volunteers at large who worked tirelessly in creating events over the past one week were lauded by all. These events were held in collaboration with Dilbir Foundation, Art gallery, Voice of Amritsar and other social welfare socities.
In a message from Washington DC, Dr. Rajwant Singh, President, EcoSikh, said, “Guru Ram Dass Nagri is revered and loved globally by one and all. Also the entire Sikh population worldwide looks with concern the rapid fall in environmental indices of Amritsar. While Harmandir sahib, the Golden Temple, is pristine in its grandeur, it is the Holy City which has degraded immensely, and its green cover depleted. We need a concerted effort to renew its sustainability for our future generations.”
Head of the civil authority in Amritsar, Deputy Commissioner Kamaljit Singh Sangha, in his address was deeply appreciative of the this philanthropic and proactive initiative. He stressed upon the need to recognise the contribution of the ragpickers and the sanitary workers who work ceaselessly for maintaining a semblance of cleanliness. He extolled the need for citizens to take responsibility and assist the civic administration to make the essential change in the city. The deputy Commissioner further pledged his complete support to the cause.
Said Gunbir Singh, Chairman, EcoAmritsar, “In all humility our initiatives for a better city have shown encouraging results. The organic food movement including organic langar at the Harimandar, Plantations in the city, Green Nagar kirtan, Plastic free Christmas, Zero disposal parks & Garbage free households are some of the positives that give us satisfaction. The enthused NGO participation, advocacy with local & state administration as well as our tree plantation projects are ongoing initiatives today. Most gratifying is the interfaith support that we generate on occasions such as AFD2017, which encourage us to work towards an Amritsar as envisioned by the Gurus.”