Pakistan has endorsed a plan to explore green projects at Kartarpur and Nankana Sahib - the most sacred Sikh shrines in the country - as part of the celebration of 550th birthday of Guru Nanak Dev in 2019.
This was informed by EcoSikh, a US-based Sikh group, whose president Rajwant Singh was recently invited by first Sikh member of Pakistan’s Punjab Assembly Ramesh Singh Arora.
In his meetings with government officials, Singh proposed that the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak be celebrated in a unique manner.
During his meeting with the Federal Minister of Planning Development and Reform, Ahsan Iqbal (of Narowal city in Pakistan), he discussed the possibilities of far-reaching environmental plans, a media release from the group said.
Iqbal gave a positive response of forming a steering committee to formulate master plans.
“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 at Nankana Sahib and at Kartarpur as sacred forest in order to conserve the bio-diversity and sanctity around this sacred place for generations to come,” Singh said.
Plans include solar panels, creating organic farmland for langar, dedicating sacred forest areas, and creating an ethos of care for the environment among local faith leaders, local communities, and thousands of pilgrims who visit the holy destinations of Nankana Sahib and Kartarpur every year.
In addition, around five or 10 acres would be devoted to organic farming to supply organic food for langar at the Nankana Sahib gurdwara and Kartarpur Gurdwara.
He also had detailed discussions with the Environment and Home Minister of Punjab Col. Shuja Kharzada, Commissioner of Gujranwala Shumail Ahmad and Deputy Commissioner of Nairowal Najaf Iqbal, the release said.
“We have also asked the environment ministry to share an environment assessment plan of the two areas to create a master sustainability projects. This would also promote eco-tourism in addition to more formal pilgrimage which will be helpful for the local economy. All the officials have agreed that any development of these sites will have an eco-focus,” Singh added.
Evacuee Trust Property Board’s (Auqaaf) Secretary Khalid Ali also expressed his support to bring development under a green master plan. Solar energy plans were also part of the discussion for Nankana Sahib.
Nankana Sahib has thousands of acres of land associated with the shrine and is managed by the trust.
Singh said Pakistani officials have asked EcoSikh to send initial proposals upon which a master plan will be drawn to have a high-level approval to start the work soon, as the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak is approaching in four years.
“We hope that Sikh diaspora will invest in the infrastructure development here and will make this a favorite destination for spiritual renewal and for cultural connection," Arora said.