India joins global initiative for green pilgrimage

Last Updated: Sun, Oct 14, 2012 10:50 hrs

Hyderabad, Oct 14 (IANS) Eleven major Indian pilgrim centres Sunday joined a global initiative for green pilgrimage to ensure that their activities have minimal negative impact on the environment.

The launch of India chapter of the International Green Pilgrimage Network (GPN) coincided with the ongoing United Nations' meet on biodiversity here. The GPN was joined by pilgrim centres and towns Amritsar, Guntur, Howrah, Visakhapatnam, Shirdi, Ujjain, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Varanasi, Bodh Gaya, and Ladakh region.

The India chapter of GPN has joined an international network of global cities across Europe, Africa and Asia, said Alison Hilliard, deputy director of Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), which organised the event along with Local Governments for Sustainability.

"Every day, millions of people around the world go on pilgrimage. The goal of the network is to encourage pilgrims, and pilgrim cities and places of every faith throughout the world to become models of care for the environment," she said.

GPN will help various faiths to make their holy cities as environmentally sustainable as possible, based on their religious beliefs.

The speakers at the launch programme, which included representatives of various pilgrim centres belonging to various faiths, stressed the need to become more responsible towards conserving the nature.

They said it was fitting that India should host a new branch of GPN as no other country has such a large number of pilgrim centres of all faiths.

"It is said that the Maha Kumbh Mela at Allahbad in 2001 was the largest human gathering, up to 70 million people, in recorded history. Other major pilgrim sites attract millions every year, including 30 million in Tirupati, 30 million in Amritsar and 1.5 million in Ajmer," a note from the organisers said.

Member cities will meet again in a year's time to share sustainable solutions for pilgrim cities by greening waste, sanitation, buildings, transport, food and accommodation.

Andhra Pradesh Minister for Municipal Administration Maheedhar Reddy told the delegates that his state, with its large number of pilgrim centres, has taken several initiatives like solar-powered cooking for 15,000 pilgrims in Tirupati every day.

Greater Hyderabad Mayor Mohammed Majid Hussain underlined the need for celebrating festivals with a responsibility towards environment. "All religions teach respect for nature and the celebrations of all festivals should be in line with these teachings," he said.

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