The gold-plated walls of India's Golden Temple once gleamed brightly, but chronic air pollution is making its walls grimy and dull. Is this the end of the "golden" era for one of the holiest Sikh shrines?
Unfortunately, the problem cannot be solved with just elbow grease. The walls of the 430-year-old temple requires an overhaul. This expensive development started more than a century ago and resumed in 1999.
Saving The Golden Temple
"The pollution degrading the Golden Temple is growing. We need to do a hell of a lot of work to protect the holy city status of this city," said Gunbir Singh, an environmentalist and Eco Amritsar leader.
While it remains unclear how much the gold replacement project will cost, it is expected to be high. However, Singh said that the cost would not be a problem, highlighting that the majority of the temple activities are based on donations. He also suggested that Sikh devotees would support the cause and donate their rings and bangles if needed.
Dealing With The Chronic Air Pollution
Environmentalists, as well as religious leaders, started a campaign to help reduce the country's air pollution. Some of their efforts include cooking with gas instead of burning wood inside the temple's "langar." Every day, this community kitchen prepares and serves food to 100,000 people for free.
Leaders also urged farmers not to burn spent crops during their field-clearing activities. Managing the traffic and removing industries near the temple are also part of the recent campaign, which is not doing so well. The changes are slow and to date, no equipment has been installed to monitor air pollution levels.
"As far as pollution goes, we are paying attention. We are in the process of procuring equipment so that we can check the pollution area, pollution from every source on a day-to-day basis," said Jaswant Singh an environmental engineer from the State Pollution Control Board.
Officials also made it illegal to cook with specific fuels in communities and restaurants near the Golden Temple and banned the burning of trash. The city plans to come up with an electricity station to prevent people from using generators powered by diesel fuel.
However, there is still no date as to when this electricity station will be built and so far, the enforcement of these recent rules is weak, according to an Associated Press report.