December 8, 2015
AMRITSAR, PUNJAB: While the UN Climate Summit is deciding the future of earth in Paris, US based EcoSikh, organized an interfaith prayer event on “Punjab Calling for Climate Justice” at Bhai Vir Singh Niwas Sthaan here in Amritsar. Citizens and leaders of all faiths, intellectuals, doctors, environmentalists, industrialists and social groups, young artists, and school students actively voiced their concern for earth’s sustainability. The event saw youth delegates from other parts of Punjab and Chandigarh as well, such as Young Flares of Ludhiana, Farz, MUN (Model United Nations) participation etc.
The venue, a green oasis in the city, was vibrant with Buddhist chants, hymns of Guru Granth Sahib, shlokas of Bhagvat Gita, verses from the Quran, gospel from the Bible and Jain representation. A common Interfaith Prayer was adopted and read by the faith leaders together which said,
“We the faith leaders, congregated in the Holy City of Amritsar, offer our prayers in unison to Almighty, seeking inspiration for humanity across continents to respect nature, & its innumerable gifts to living beings, and blessings for mankind to learn to live in harmony with God’s Creation.”
Talking about the issue, Ravneet Singh, Project Manager of EcoSikh said, “It’s high time that people and government take meaningful step to mitigate the effects of climate change. Punjab and rest of India is vulnerable to the effects of climate change. There has to more emphasis on finding substitutes for fossil fuels to cut carbon and find alternative sources for India’s energy needs. Punjab with a mere 4% forest cover, lack of land use policy plus liberal use of water resources, along with climate change is contributing into rapid desertification of its land. The future of Punjab is unsafe and worrisome. The statistical reports say that one-third of the Punjab land can convert into desert by 2025 if the annual rainfall keeps declining and blind water pumping is continuing in the same way.”
Gunbir Singh, Chairman of Eco-Amritsar & the Chairperson for World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF Punjab) expressed urgently towards a consensus on the issue, “While the developed nations contributed immensely to today’s situation of Global Warming over the past century, the developing nations also cannot absolve themselves from their responsibility since they are fast catching up in degrading the environment. Closer home burning post harvest straw, negative health impact, low forest cover, depleting water levels & quality, soil degradation, and resultant economic woes of the farming community are severe climate issues for Punjab. With rising temperatures due to Climate Change expected by 2050 cropping patterns will be severely compromised. Chennai floods and Delhi pollution are sharp reminders that the dangers are at our doorstep and we have to act now, globally and locally.”
He said that the time for change and the time to act is now, or else it will be too late to remedy the damage already done. Our humble effort is an interfaith prayer for a global consensus to emerge at the Paris Climate Summit, and to express solidarity towards Punjab’s ecology & its growing generations.