On this World Environment Day let’s pledge to save our Mother Earth and Humanity-Puri
Jaswant Singh Puri/ June 5,2023
The earth is weighed down by a huge biomass of human beings alone. The world environment means our surroundings, our living conditions, human beings and animals living on the earth, their ecosystem. Environment is the basis of our life, our pillar of life which provides us with air to breathe, water to drink, food for consumption and place for living. So, the surrounding conditions, both biotic and abiotic play a dominant and strong role in our lives and this is called environment. Environment is the only science that explores the past, present and future of the earth. It is related with ecology, the branch of science that discovers human science demography, community, biodiversity and environmental science. Ecology helps us to understand the biotic and abiotic factors of environment. The environment is under constant process of change, its various factors also under go changes which may be rapid and slow. The biosphere and the geographical surroundings of a place are referred to as its ecology.
Environment is the most precious gift to humans on this earth. There is a need to focus on the existence of environment because nature should not be taken for granted. That is why World Environment Day is celebrated worldwide to upkeep its status and take steps to prevent it. World Environment day is celebrated on 5th June to create awareness about it and prevent further damage caused by human activities. The idea of celebrating World Environment Day is to create a beautiful world which is free of pollution without any scarcity of natural resources.People from more than hundred countries participate in it. This important day is run by United Nations Programme since 1973 which lays emphasis on the conservation of our environment. The first environment day was observed on 1974 with the theme ‘Only One Earth’. 2023 environment day campaign #Beat Plastic Pollution calls for global solution to combat plastic menace. The day is a global platform for inspiring positive change. There is a need on the part of the government, businesses and individuals to create a more sustainable world. To sustain the planet earth, host country in 2022 was Sweden where it was pledged to stop issuing licenses for new coal, oil and natural gas extractions since human beings have put the alarming bells on environment sustainability.
Time is running out and nature is in emergency mode. Global Warmingis one of the reasons to pollute the environment for which we have to curtail green-house effect.The Indian Government has introduced stringent laws regarding vehicles. Fifteen year old vehicles run on diesel will be phased out. Moreover, electric two wheelers and four wheelers are being introduced to reduce pollution. More and more tress should be planted to reduce pollution. In the name of development and construction of roads, there is a need to uproot trees but more trees should be planted than the number of uprooted trees.
Minerals and industrial progress have also led to environmental pollution. The pollutants and other chemicals extracted by the factories are thrown ruthlessly which cause pollution. It leads to the death of aquatic flora and fauna. So, the present-day polluted environment is not only due to natural powers but technological development and human concepts of development that contribute to pollution.
Plastic is the largest and the most harmful that causes marine litter. More than 100 million tons of plastic is produced every year, most of which ends up in lakes, rivers and seas. Tiny plastic particles find their way into foods, water and air. Discarded or burnt plastic harms human health and biodiversity, and pollutes ecosystem from mountains to oceans. There is an urgency to ban plastic items to solve this crisis. Many governments have taken steps to ban plastic utility items. About 175 UN Member States endorsed a historic resolution to end plastic pollution. Plastic products create greenhouse gas emissions.
Indian Prime Minister also initiated ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ Programme and ‘Clean Ganga Project’ to reduce the calamity of environmental pollution. The World Environment Day of 2011 was hosted by India and its theme was: ‘Forests-Nature at Your Service’.
For 2023, the host country is: Cote d’Ivoire and its largest city, Abidjan, has also become a hub for start-ups looking to beat plastic pollution.
Life and environment are deeply related to each other. Environment is a safety umbrella for human beings and their sustenance.Environmental pollution has caused adverse effects on Ozone gas which protects us from ultraviolet rays reflecting from the sun. These are very harmful for our health. The number of chlorofluorocarbons has caused holes in the Ozone layer which leaves adverse effects on plants and animals. It also causes the loss of immunity among human beings and may even lead to skin cancer.
Moreover, the smoke emerging from the factories and the urbanization of rural areas is engulfing the fertility of land. Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji had laid emphasis hundreds of years ago that air is the vital force, water is progenitor; the vast earth is the mother of all and nights are nurses, fondling all creation in their lap. Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji supported an integrated approach between human life and nature. If we realise this, we cannot harm our environment as we are a part of it. Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji hadwritten in “Japuji Sahib”:
“ਪਵਣ ਗੁਰੂ ਪਾਣੀ ਪਿਤਾ,
ਮਾਤਾ ਧਰਤਿ ਮਹਤੁ॥”
The heritage and culture of Punjab has always paid consideration to its environment but the activities of human beings have reversed the protective measures of environment. Delhi, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Moga and other developing cities are facing the onslaughts of polluted environment. Some strict guidelines should be issued by the authorities like the use of B.I.S. marked electrical goods which cause lesser radiation. Trees can be planted in huge numbers which absorb carbon-dioxide.Peepal trees, Neem trees etc. should be planted which lessen the amount of carbon-dioxide and give out oxygen. Social media sites like radio, television, newspaper, posters should be used to preach the valuable aspects of pure air, pure water and save the planet earth from hazards. Solar power plants may be installed on rooftops to reduce the consumption of electricity.
There is need to save the species of birds and animals so that these do not become extinct. Organic farming should be encouraged and farmers should be taught how to use optimum amount of fertilisers and insecticides. It is praiseworthy to note that Punjab Agriculture and Welfare Department of Punjab has introduced the concept oftoxinfree Basmati rice cultivation in Chogwan Block of Amritsar District.More and more farmers are following the pursuit. It is worth mentioning that Punjab contributes to about sixty percent of wheat production. So there is an urgency to love and worship Nature. Balbir Singh Seechewal has also supported the message of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji who asserts in Sri Nanak’s writings and pronouncements that he always inspired people to look at nature. In Sikh theology, cleanliness is an important virtue. Sri Guru Nanak advises us to learn the virtues of cleanliness. Sri Guru Arjan Dev articulates that a God-conscious man has great patience and true selflessness like earth. ‘Sukhmani Sahib’ quote enunciates the idea:
“ਬ੍ਰਹਮਗਿਆਨੀ ਕੈ ਧੀਰਜ ਏਕ॥
ਜਿਉ ਬਸੁਧਾ ਕੋਊ ਖੋਜੈ ਕੋਈ ਕੋਊ ਚੰਦਨ ਲੇਪ॥”
Known as Eco Baba, Balbir Singh Seechewal has been awarded with Padma Shri for his anti-river pollution campaign and resurrecting the long Kali-Bein rivulet.
It is a nice attempt on the part of the Unite Nations Decade, an Ecosystem Restoration from 2021 to 2030 to combat climate change, safeguard biodiversity, food security and water supply. Recently, artists from Drishti Theatre Club performed a street play organised by the UT Department of Environment in Chandigarh. The Role of Sunder Lal Bahuguna in ‘Chipko Movement’ had been remarkable in the 1970s. He played a role in anti-Tehri Dam protests.
Punjab Pollution Control Board has been instructed by Central Pollution Control Board to impose fine and take action against for a detailed environmental site assessment of the villages around the ethanol plant in Zira. Very recently, a Botanical Garden was inaugurated on the upcoming occasion of Environment Day in Sri Guru Granth Sahib University by the Vice-chancellor Professor Pritpal Singh. The garden has been inaugurated to save the extinct and endangered species of plants. To upkeep the environment, High Court of Himachal Pradesh has directed the authorities to ensure no muck-dumping in Govind Sagar Lake. Punjabi University, Patiala has renamed its Botanical Gardens as SS Bir Botanical Gardens. The Herbarium and Museum was established in Botany Department in 1967. The Herbarium has been recognised by the International Bureau of Plant Taxonomy. Baradari Gardens of Patiala also deserve appreciation. The gardens laid under Maharaja Rajindera Singh planted rare trees, shrubs and the fern house to promote greenery and healthy environment. Like this, Rehbar Herbal Garden is unique at Bhawanigarh. Sacred plants and trees like Harshingar, amla, parijat, akarkara, ashwagandha, amaltas, giloy etc. are valuable medicinal trees and plants.
A very valuable and a remarkable Health Guide ‘Speaking of How to Prevent Common Diseases’ by Dr. Ajit Singh Puri is an eye opener for common masses on tobacco chewing and smoking hazards which also cause pollution of the destructive order. The book carries a ‘Foreword’ by Lord Walton, Former President, British Medical Association. Dr. Puri wrote various books on epidemics like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), bird flu, dengue etc. His books ‘All You Wanted to Know about SARS’; ‘Bird Flu: Countering the Terror’, ‘Deadly Dengue: Detection, Prevention and Treatment’ have served the masses. Such deadly diseases are also caused by environmental pollution.
Environment has to be saved at all costs by growing trees, banning plastic production, reducing greenhouse gases, optimum use of fertilisers and insecticides, saving the ozone layer, adoption of organic farming, adhering to government laws and following the message of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji who persuaded human beings to look at nature very lovingly. I remember the following quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt: “A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people”.
Note: The views expressed are personal. This article is dedicated to Smt. Alka Puri wife of Dr. Ajit Singh Puri and mother of Jaswant Singh Puri.