This amazing man and his volunteers cleaned a 160-km long river in Punjab, India

People generally count challenges before starting an initiative but Baba Balbir Singh a man from Punjab decided to clean a 160-km river at his own cost. It is a fact that he was able to gather many committed volunteers on his mission to clean the river .Together they transformed a once dirty river into the life line of the region. 

Baba cleaning the Kali Bein river in Punjab. Credit: Nirmal Kuteya

Baba and his volunteers cleaned the river bed and this helped restore the normal flow of clean water in the river. Not only this, even, they beautified the river banks with flowers and fruit trees and made bathing ghats and brick roads on its banks.

Kali Bein river was dirty and overgrown with hyacinth weed before Baba and his volunteers cleaned it up.

Credit: Nirmal Kuteya

Working together for change

Due to this work carried out by Baba and his volunteers all the water problems in the Doaba area of Punjab were also solved. Clean river changed the economics of the region for better, helped farmers and ensured that children grow up in clean air and with clean water.  This tireless work and contribution to the community made Baba’s work recognized in the entire world.

Baba’s volunteers worked tirelessly.

Credit: Nirmal Kuteya

The unique sewage model

With assistance from Punjab government, Baba has been able to design an underground sewerage system, a low-cost indigenous model to store sewage waters in ponds and treat it in a natural way for usage in agriculture and irrigation. This amazing model is now benefiting 50 villages in the region. With the availability of water, farmers have been able to take up organic farming. Many farmers had committed suicides owing to crop failures due to lack of water but remarkably Baba’s work provided a sustainable solution. In way we can say that Baba’s effort has become a role model.

Men and woman participated equally to clean the river.

Credit: Nirmal Kuteya

His help was sought by the government

Seeing the success of his initiative, the Indian government was encouraged and contacted him for starting Seechewal Model in the cleaning of Ganga. The Government is looking forward to rejuvenating the Ganga with the help of people’s participation in rural areas of the states through which it passes. His success story has thus become an inspiration for many other projects. His initiative can also script success in states like Rajasthan where water scarcity is a perennial problem.

In February this year, he came up with a solution to treat solid waste with a machine developed in the Sant Avtar Singh Yadgari Technical Research Center under his guidance. The machine is able to   separate heavy particles like polythene, glass, and iron from the garbage. It can be cheaply manufactured and is being tested for further improvements.

This is how Kali Bein river looks after the clean-up drive.

Credit: Nirmal Kuteya

Baba is more than an environmentalist 

Baba’s work has got wide acclaim all over the world.  What to say more about Baba that a person like APJ Abdul Kalam, in many of his speeches, praised Baba’s work and described him as a role model for the nation. Not only the environment, Baba has worked for society as well as in the field of eradicating many social evils like poverty, ignorance, superstition, atrocities against women. Today he has by his effort been able to also establish many schools.

He has established schools, technical centers 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 human beings.

It is due to his works that a number of organizations have showered honors on him for his achievements in different fields of environmental upgradation and public welfare. His name has been featured even in internationally renowned magazine, the Time which described him as a Hero of Environment. What is more is that he is the only Indian and the only Asian to get this recognition.

This is how clean Kali Bein river is after the initiative.

Credit: Nirmal Kuteya