VADODARA: If 160 km long tributary of Beas in Punjab can be cleaned, the same can be done with Vishwamitri that passes from the heart of city. This is what environmentalist and Padma Shri awardee Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal said here on Sunday.

The social innovator is credited for taking up the daunting task of cleaning Guru Nanak’s historic river Kali Bein, the 160 km long tributary of Beas, with just couple of volunteers.

He was in the city to attend an interactive session titled ‘Pani, Paryavaran aur Padma Shri’ organised by the Vadodara Innovation Council (VIC) at Baroda High School. VIC also felicitated his meeting with the officials of Vadodara Municipal Corporation and members of the ‘Vaho Vishwamitri Abhiyaan’ at Community Science Centre, Vadodara.

“Damage to Vishwamitri is not just damage to urbanites residing in Vadodara city but also to thousands settled in the rural areas across the river’s flow. The solution to this problem is simple – don’t dump your waste into the river,” said the sant, whose low-cost underground sewage system model, also known as the ‘Seechewal Model’ treats the stored sewage water in a natural way, using it for agriculture and irrigation.

In August 2013, former president Dr A P J Abdul Kalam too had cited Seechewal model’s example to rejuvenate and revive Vishwamitri while releasing a project proposal of ‘Vaho Vishwamitri Abhiyaan’ prepared by the National Bioshield Society and the Community Science Centre at a function at a city-based school.

The sant who has also been approached by Government of India to implement the model in cleaning River Ganga has offered all the required support from his end for the Vishwamitri project.

“Most rivers in the country are polluted as the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974 has remained just on paper. The Central Pollution Control Board and the state pollution control boards under it have no ‘control’. There is a provision of three to seven years jail imprisonment for polluting rivers. In fact, the law does not even allow a person to spit in the flowing river. While no new rules are required, its proper implementation is not being done,” he said.

He suggested that the pollution control boards should be made independent as presently people who are responsible for pollution are themselves appointed as members to such boards.

He blamed industries and municipal bodies as equally responsible for pollution in rivers.

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