By opening a counter in the newly constructed entrance plaza of the Golden Temple, the SGPC has given a fresh impetus to the ‘Nanhi Chhaan’ project. It offers buta parshad to devotees free of cost, and educates people against female foeticide and promoting environmental concerns.

Former Ranbaxy chairman Harpal Singh was the brainchild behind the project. It was launched from the Golden Temple on August 27, 2008. Lack of funds was a brake on the project. The Forest Department was roped in to grow saplings of mango, guava, tulsi, neem and other fruit-bearing plants offered as “buta parshad”. In October 2008, buta parshad was started at Talwandi Sabo in Bathinda, the district which elected Harsimrat Kaur Badal as a Member of Parliament in 2009. Gurdwaras in Anandpur Sahib, Damdama Sahib and Fatehgarh Sahib followed suit.

The department tended to the nurseries in these gurdwaras. An official said the department had supplied nearly 2.61 lakh saplings to the SGPC between December 2010 and March 2012. “Everything went smoothly for the first two years. Later, the SGPC became irregular with payments. For the 2011-12 fiscal, Rs1.5 lakh was pending. In 2014, around 4.5 lakh saplings were procured, but payments were irregular. Later, the SGPC stepped back and the interest was lost,” he said. Kanwaljit Kaur, in charge at the Golden Temple counter, claimed that the project was never stopped, but suspended because of the construction of the entrance plaza. She said Harsimrat had deputed her.

“For the past eight years, I have been taking care of saplings planted near the shrine. Two other SGPC employees helped me. The project was never discontinued. In 2013-14, the nurseries were shifted near serais. Now, we have been provided with a proper space that can store around 1,000 saplings. Nearly 500 to 700 saplings. are offered to devotees free of cost,” she said. Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Atal Mahajan said he joined here last year. “Saplings were planted in nurseries and supplied as per demand,” he claimed.

“The SGPC gives us Rs3.5 per plant for nurturing the saplings. The department bears rest of the input cost. The plants are supplied on the basis of SGPC’s feedback,” the DFO added. Harcharan Singh, SGPC chief secretary, said efforts had been made to sustain and make the project a success.