Meet Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal, the baba who single-handedly cleaned a 160-km long river in Punjab

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Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal was honoured the ‘Hero of Environment’ title by TIME Magazine, becoming not only the only Indian but also the only Asian to get this distinction.

Incase you’re wondering what made TIME magazine bestow such a great honour on Sant Balbir Singh, also popularly known as Eco Baba in India and abroad, it’s because he undertook the task of cleaning Guru Nanak’s historic river Kali Bein, the 160-km long tributary of Beas, which flows through Punjab all by himself.

The river bed of Kali Bein used to be a victim of severe domestic and industrial pollution and was teeming with hyacinth and silt and was on the verge of dying.

That changed in 2000, when Sant Balbir Singh, aided with a large number of volunteers took matters in their own hands and successfully cleaned the river.

Apart from restoring the normal flow of the clean water, the holy man also beautified the river banks with trees bearing fruits, flowers, bathing ghats and brick roads. Additionally, this also ended up solving the water problems in Punjab’s Dooba area.

Singh’s low-cost underground sewage system model, also known as the Seechewal Model treats the stored stewage water in a natural way, using it for agriculture and irrigation.

This model has benefitted around 50 villages and has had the envy of the Central Government of India, who have approached Singh to implement this model in the cleaning of River Ganga, as well.

His hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed with it being recognised by national, international organisations and even by the late APJ Abdul Kalam, who was known to praise Singh’s work in his speeches.

That’s not all. The holy man has also played an important role in establishing schools, technical centres, degree colleges besides being instrumental in eradicating poverty, superstition and atrocities against women.

Through his selfless work, he’s taught all of us not to take the environment for granted and step up when the situation requires us to, instead of whining and complaining.
This Singh is undoubtedly a King!

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