A galaxy of distinguished environmentalists, agriculturalists, social scientists, medical scientists, religious heads and academicians gathered here at the Guru Nanak Dev University to participate in a one-day Bhagat Puran Singh Memorial National Seminar have strongly warned that Punjab is fast heading towards an ecological disaster.
They said it is also turning into a cradle for cancer and congenital defects due to large scale and indiscriminate use and abuse of chemical pesticides.
This seminar was jointly organized by the All India Pingalwara Charitable Society and the Guru Nanak Dev University, here today at Guru Nanak Bhawan Auditorium. Prof. Dr. Jai Rup Singh, Vice-Chancellor of the University presided over the inaugural session while Dr. Devinder Sharma, a renowned Agriculture and Food Policy Analyst inaugurated it. Dr. Inderjit Kaur, President of All India Pingalwara Charitable Society welcomed the august audience.
They opined that natural and healthy life style is encouraged. The natives of the earth should understand their responsibility and be conscious about their surroundings.
They were of the view that the message of Bhagat Puran Singh be made compulsory as a part of the syllabi of our schools, colleges and Universities and also spread at the global level.
Today's deadly diseases are the result of our modern lifestyle and environmental pollution. Thus, they laid more emphasis on organic farming and avoid pesticides. The consumers should be aware of their rights and environmental laws.
A New Delhi-based Food and Trade Policy Analyst, Dr. Devinder Sharma said that the present crisis was because of the faulty understanding of the economic growth and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that was being promoted at the cost of environmental destruction. There was an urgent need to decipher what GDP means in relation to environment.
"Society cannot be allowed to be a victim of the faulty growth and development economic model."
He said that Punjab has to dig-out the message given by Bhagat Puran Singh.
"What he had said some 30 to 50 years back about the dangers of environmental degradation, is now coming out to be true."
Paying tributes to Bhagat Puran Singh, the Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, Professor Dr Jai Rup Singh emphasized on the need and necessity of environmental awareness and education. He also apprised of the steps the university had taken to go environment-friendly. He laid emphasis on alternative sources of energy as well as on water harvesting. The university campus he said was the first in the country to set up a waste treatment plant at a cost of Rs 38 lakh.
The Vice-Chancellor said that Guru Nanak Dev University named after the great Guru is committed to protect the environment and also aware about its social responsibilities. He said we are spoiling our life style in the mad race of earning and churning money. Thus he said the aim and objective of our life has been lost in this mad race.
He said the State and Central Governments should provide modern and cheaper solar cells because still we are dependent on old solar cells invented 50 years ago. He also took a serious note of big hoardings being used as publicity material as it adds visual pollution. The population explosion is also a great problem for our country which needs due attention, he added.
Dr Inderjit Kaur, President All-India Pingalwara Charitable Society earlier welcomed the distinguished gathering and said that there was no better ay of holding a memorial seminar for Bhagat Puran Singh than to take his message about environmental protection forward.
She said Bhagat Puran Singh sacrificed his whole life for the cause of humanity.
She called upon the general masses to follow the path shown by Bhagat Puran Singh. She also expressed the hope that the deliberations of this seminar would generate the awareness among the people of Punjab to make the state clean and green.
A well-known Chipko Andolan Exponent, Mr Sunderlal Bahuguna paid rich tributes to Bhagat Puran Singh and urged people to follow the path shown by him to care about soil, water and clean air. He said the water crisis is a great problem facing the country today so adequate steps should be taken for recharge of water. He also laid emphasis to check the population explosion.
Agriculture Campaigner from the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Hyderabad, Kavitha Kuruganthi, explained at length the environmental impact of intensive farming systems, and the social cost being borne by Punjab farmers. She also warned against an impending crisis emanating from the release of genetically modified crops.
Environmental epidemiologist Dr S G Kabra from Jaipur explained about the ill effects of chemical pesticides and brought out the congenital defects that Punjab was now faced with as a result. "Punjab today as the dubious distinction of having the maximum number of brainless children being born."
Magsaysay Award winner, Rajender Singh, Dr. Amar Singh Azad, Dr. Raghbir Singh, Dean, Academic Affairs also expressed their views on the theme of the seminar.