Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Kali Bein and its cultural significance


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kali Bein

Mains level : River water management issues

Punjab CM has been admitted to hospital, days after he had drunk a glass of water directly from the Kali Bein, a holy rivulet in Sultanpur Lodhi.

What is the Kali Bein?

  • The 165-km rivulet starts from Hoshiarpur, runs across four districts and meets the confluence of the rivers Beas and Sutlej in Kapurthala.
  • Along its banks are around 80 villages and half a dozen small and big towns.
  • Waste water from there as well as industrial waste used to flow into the rivulet via a drain, turning its waters black, hence the name Kali Bein (black rivulet).
  • Dense grass and weeds grew on the water until a cleaning project started.

Why did Punjab CM drink water from it?

  • The occasion was the 22nd anniversary of the cleaning project, which had started on July 16, 2000.
  • The project has been slow for years after having made remarkable progress in the initial years.
  • Nevertheless, when Mann drank water from it directly, it was a much cleaner Kali Bein than it was before 2000.

Cultural significance

  • The Kali Bein is of great significance to Sikh religion and history, because the first Guru, Nanak Dev, is said to have got enlightenment here.
  • When Guru Nanak Dev was staying at Sultanpur Lodhi with his sister Bebe Nanki, he would bathe in the Kali Bein.
  • He is said to have disappeared into the waters one day, before emerging on the third day.
  • The first thing he recited was the “Mool Mantra” of the Sikh religion.

How did the cleaning project start?

  • It was started by environmentalist Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal with a handful of followers, without government help.
  • They removed weeds, treated the water and spread awareness among residents.
  • Six years of hard work paid off when then President A P J Abdul Kalam visited the site in 2006 and praised them for their effort.
  • The then government in Punjab then announced that it would take up the project to stop the discharge of untreated water into the rivulet.

What is its national significance?

  • At one stage, the project had become a role model for river cleaning missions.
  • The ‘Kali Bein Model’ was cited as the blueprint for the National Mission for Clean Ganga.
  • Uma Bharti, then Union Minister for Water Resources, River Project and Ganga Rejuvenation, visited the Kali Bein in 2015, and called it a Guru Sthan for the Ganga project.

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