Cotton town covers itself in green

Sudhirendar Sharma | Updated on January 24, 2018

Tree cheers The lush environs of Kamdhenu Gaushala in Barnala

Surinder Pal Kaushal

How Barnala in Punjab hums with dedication every year on World Environment Day

At 71, Surinder Pal Kaushal’s obsession with ‘green’ isn’t waning. Daily he conspires with his family and friends to identify public places in town that can be turned green with plantations. “Being at the centre of the rainbow, green alone can bring all other colours to life,” he quips. From public institutions to government lands, open spaces and wastelands… all have been his target for the past three decades.

The retired engineer has not only succeeded in engineering partnerships with many social groups but also galvanised his family and relatives to join the act. No wonder the district town of Barnala in Punjab is humming with green activism. Each year on June 5, World Environment Day, hundreds from the city gather at the invitation of Kaushal and his family to celebrate and reinforce their commitment to keep their abode green.

In its fifth year, it is indeed a rare kind of celebration. Apart from a leading environmentalist invited to speak at the event, the gathering includes government officials, environment activists, social welfare groups and citizens.

Youngest of six siblings, Kaushal nurtures an innate desire to leave a better environment for society at large. “The event is organised in the spirit of a yagna to seek blessings from our ancestors,” adds son Saqil.

Under the aegis of the Ishwar Asha Memorial Environment Trust, named after Kaushal’s parents, the family offers green remembrances and rededicates itself to the cause of the environment.

The plantations they have raised at the Drug De-addiction Centre, Swami Nitya Nand Moni Gau Lok Dham Trust Gaushala and Kamdhenu Gaushala bear testimony to their efforts. As many as 30 varieties of trees, including ornamental, fruit-bearing and medicinal, have been planted. With support from the Rotary Club, Kaushal even sought and got permission to green the areas along the railway tracks in Barnala.

Known for its cotton industry, Barnala remains a small town that supports a population of around one lakh. Close to the cities of Ludhiana and Bhatinda, it is well-connected by rail and road with other parts of the State. However, its semi-arid climate is incentive enough for Kaushal and his team to embark on their unending green mission. “We don’t keep count of trees planted as we are not vying for any accolades or awards,” he says.

The writer is Director, The Eco-logical Foundation, New Delhi

Published on June 05, 2015

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