What is your view of water pollution and sanitation? Do you think that the situation has gone from bad to worse? If so what could be done?
A. Hindustan is a beautiful country and here Gurus like Guru Nanak Dev ji and Guru Tegh Bahadur ji lived. From independence to this date, we have interfered in nature’s work. We have spoiled rivers, mountains, plantations and forests also. This is because of these activities we have the problem of pollution and of impurity of water. What we are drinking today is polluted water which is killing people. To solve this gigantic problem everyone has to work together.
First of all they should not throw trash everywhere but to selected places. Government should ensure that the entire trash and garbage should be taken to a particular place and properly disposed. As far as water is concerned, people should not waste it. We find that water from tapes, houses and drains are flowing on the streets. Most of the time it accumulates on the streets which helps mosquitoes to breed and spread diseases like dengue and Malaria.
Now it is the duty of everyone to see that clean water is not wasted and used water is also not thrown outside. Government should also do efforts to clean this water and make it worth drinking. Why can’t we do this?
It is written in Gurbani that whatever work is to be done has to start from one’s home. We should clean our streets and mohallas ourselves. This is the best option. This is a subject of sorrow that we are doing nothing in this direction. As a result there is pollution everywhere whether it is water or air. Today everything is polluted. So, we should work by the rules of nature.
Before independence, our forefathers dug wells which had pure and sweet drinking water but now they are poisonous. They are not worth drinking today. Air and water were to help people to lead healthy life but they are now contaminated because of us. We are taking poisonous air for breathing, contaminated water for drinking. Poison is everywhere even in fruits and vegetables.. Look at the situation in Punjab where thousands of people Are dying every year because of cancer. Large number of people are going to other cities for treatment and the train in which they travel is jokingly called Cancer Express. This is so sad. How long will it go?
It is therefore necessary to work together. I personally thank Swami Chidanand ji who is leading people to the right direction and teaching them the meaning of sanitation and cleanliness. There should be countrywide awakening.
How can children who are the future of the country be taught about all this?
You are right. Children are the future of this country. They should be taught to keep everything clean, the meaning of sanitation and the necessity of fighting pollution. Children tend to forget things early. It is the duty of religious leaders to encourage children to do cleanliness work themselves. They should be taught how to keep themselves clean. It is the duty of their family members to teach them. We talk of cows and Gauraksha but we are ourselves cleaning cows. We throw all the garbage and trash in a polythene bag. Cows eat them, fail ill and die tragic death. We should immediately stop this callousness.
The Government too seems to be awakening to this issue now. What do you expect from the present government?
This is our own government. It is there to help people. The Government is doing its duty but it should do more. It has the power of law. It should take stern action against those who pollute rivers and atmosphere. People defecate on the banks of rivers and do all kinds of dirty works there. This is polluting our rivers and making their water poisonous. This should be stopped immediately.
The Government should stop this strict by imposing penalties on people who break such laws. We don’t bother about cleanliness. Take for example, those who eat paan and spit anywhere. These people should be punished severely. In fact anybody who pollutes or disfigure public property should face serious action, whether he is a minister or any VVIP. Strict laws and their implementation is the need of the day.
Do you think setting targets for sanitation and cleanliness will work?
Targets are always there but the world runs like this. Instead of keeping targets, we should try to make it a day- today affair. We should hurry in this regard. We should take lesson from Sant Kashmir Singh ji and his followers who everyday come to Amritsar near Darbar Saheb. They bring with themselves brooms and such things, clear the area and take away all the garbage in tractors making it very clean. Everyone should take inspiration from them and keep his/her area clean. When we keep our own houses clean, why then we throw our garbage near the neighbors’ house? We should not only think of ourselves but of the entire area and community.
Cleanliness and sanitation will help this country grow. I go to different countries and find them so clean that I feel ashamed. They maintain high standards of cleanliness and hygiene by observing simple rules. Time has come to clear all the mess created by ourselves. Already millions of people are dying because of polluted water and air. We have come to know through UNICEF that everyday more than 250 children below the age of 5 die because of polluted water and such other hazards. We must stop them and make the country healthy.