The Kali Bein river in Punjab is in high regard amongst the people. They believed Guru Nanak attained enlightenment after taking a bath in the Kali Bein. It is, thus, considered sacred by many in the state.
But owing to the wake of the Green Revolution of India, this river took a massive beating and got progressively polluted. It was reduced to nothing but a drain because of the waste that was discarded in it. Some portions of the river had even dried up, resulting in immense water problems in the neighboring farms.
Finally, in the year 2000, the river underwent a massive transformation under the guidance of Eco Baba, Balbir Singh Seechwaal.
He decided that something had to be done about the domestic and industrial waste that was killing the river. Balbir Singh organized a ‘kar sewa’ and roped in the Government of Punjab and an army of volunteers.
Balbir Singh Seechewal and his team began work. They began by teaching local people the importance of cleaning the river. They enlisted more volunteers and raised more funds with the help of contributions by the residents of over 24 villages to purchase equipment required for cleaning.
Together, they rid entire river bed was ridden from unnecessary hyacinth and silt. The team also worked on the beautification of the river bank with trees, bathing ghats, and roads.
Balbir Singh also realized that the dumping of waste by the villagers is not helping their cause either. So he parallelly started a public awareness campaign, urging villagers to not dispose of sewage in the river.
Thanks to months of efforts by Balbir Singh and his team, finally, the riverbed was clean. Natural springs were restored, and the river started to fill up once again. It has also become a recreation center now.
When asked about his efforts, Balbir Singh says, “We have proved that it is possible to restore our rivers back to a pristine condition if we all come together. It is time to do this on a bigger scale.”
Following this, Balbir Singh worked with the Punjab Government on developing an underground sewerage system model. A low-cost model that collects sewage water from ponds and treats it naturally for agriculture and irrigation purposes.
He has been praised by many in the country and abroad for his work over the years. Other than working towards the conservation of the environment, he has also established schools and colleges in different places.
In February 2016, he came up with a solution to treat solid waste with a machine developed in the Sant Avtar Singh Yadgari Technical Research Centre under his guidance. This machine can help separate particles like polythene, glass, and iron from the garbage. It can be cheaply manufactured and is being tested for further improvements.