Pakistan endorses green plans for Sikh shrines

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Washington, Mar 8: Pakistan officials have endorsed a plan to explore green projects at Nankana Sahib and Kartarpur, the most sacred Sikh shrines in the country.

This will be a part of the celebrations of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak in 2019. He was born in Nankana Sahib and lived in Kartarpur for the last 17 years of his life, as told by EcoSikh, a Washington-based Sikh organisation.

Guru Nanak

EcoSikh president Rajwant Singh visited Nankana Sahib, Kartarpur Sahib, and Narowal to explore what actions would be needed by communities and the administration to preserve the ecology of these sacred sites.

He was invited by Ramesh Singh Arora, first Sikh member of the Punjab assembly in Pakistan.

He also met Ahsan Iqbal, federal minister of planning development and reform, and Shuja Kharzada, environment and home minister of Pakistan's Punjab province, among other officials.

"These sacred sites are revered by Sikhs all over the world. We have proposed the idea of dedicating between 25 and 50 acres of land in Nankana Sahib and Kartarpur as 'sacred forest' in order to conserve the bio-diversity and sanctity around this place for generations to come," Rajwant Singh said.

Plans include solar panels, creating organic farmland for langar, dedicating sacred forest areas, and creating an ethos of care for environment among local faith leaders, communities, and thousands of pilgrims visiting Nankana Sahib and Kartarpur every year.

In addition, around five or ten acres would be devoted for organic farming to supply food for langar at Nankana Sahib and Kartarpur gurdwaras.

Pakistani officials have asked EcoSikh to send proposals for a master plan as the anniversary of Guru Nanak will come in four years.

Ramesh Singh Arora said: "The aim of all sides is for these celebrations in Pakistan to be as appropriate, and wonderful, as possible and for them to have positive repercussions down the generations in Punjab and elsewhere."

EcoSikh South Asia project manager Ravneet Singh said: "We will make all possible efforts to make prime Sikh pilgrimage sites in Pakistan truer to the Guru's teaching about protecting and respecting and loving the land."

IANS

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