Friends of the Ganges & the Sankat Mochan Foundation, India
OzGREEN has been working alongside the Sankat Mochan Foundation in India for over 25 years, working to restore the health of the Ganges River.
Our Vision : Not a single drop of sewage flowing into Ganga along the religious bathing areas of Varanasi.
OzGREEN has partnered with the Sankat Mochan Foundation (SMF) in Varanasi, India since 1992 when OzGREEN founders Sue and Colin Lennox first travelled to India for the River Ganges Teacher Forum. They provided water testing equipment and training for 40 local volunteers, in a project that was the forerunner for establishing the Swatcha Ganga Research Laboratory and gained a deep insight into how important the Ganges was to the people, forging their own deep connection. Seeing terrible pollution on the trip, they were also involved in some of the first faecal coliform testing and were shocked at just how high the results were.
This experience was life changing for Sue and Colin Lennox. In India they realised the work they had begun at Freshwater High School had global applications, triggering dedication to work for the global water crisis and protection of the environment. Sue & Col decided to dedicate their lives to this work, and quit their jobs as teachers to set up OzGREEN. OzGREEN has continued to build a strong partnership with SMF over 25 years.
Since 1992, OzGREEN have travelled to India more than 20 times and been involved in a range of projects with some of the achievements including:
- 1992 - Providing training and equipment to SMF to establish the Swatcha Ganga Research Laboratory to conduct water quality testing – win Banksia Award 1996
- Filming of the Swatcha Ganga video (winner of United Nations Media Peace Prize) 1994
- Establish Friends of the Ganges Australia 1994
- 60 Minutes (Australia) film story about Swatcha Ganga campaign featuring Sue and Colin Lennox 1997;
- Establish Swatcha Ganga Environmental Education Centre at Tulsi Ghat 1999.
- Designing and raising funds for mini-tube wells. The first mini-tube well is launched at Kamauli Village by Australian MP Richard Jones MLC. 8 tube-wells followed 2000-2002, benefiting over 10,000 people.
- Organisation of a local Youth River Congress involving hundreds of Benares school children in 2002. Following the success of this program, the Ghat Purohit Sangam (River Priest) is organised (see TEDx Talk)
- Engaging over 4,000 youth in leadership programs since 2002
- Training 50 YLTW Facilitators in Varanasi
- Upgrading of the Swatcha Ganga Research Laboratory, with a generous grant from the Australian High Commission in Delhi 2018.
- Helping to establish a new Mothers for Mother group to engage women in the campaign for Clean Ganga.
About Sankat Mochan Foundation - Clean Ganges Campaign
Swatcha Ganga Abhiyan (Clean Ganges Campaign) is an initiative of the Sankat Mochan Foundation (SMF), a not for profit, secular organisation with a vision to see not one drop of sewage flowing into River Ganga at Varanasi. The SMF office, research laboratory and environmental education centre are located on the banks of River Ganga at Tulsi Ghat.
Established in 1982, the Swatcha Ganga Campaign of the Sankat Mochan Foundation draws on the wisdom of an ancient culture and the world’s best engineers, promotes the use of effective state-of-the-art sewage treatment and engages the creative involvement of community. Over the past 30 years SMF has implemented a wide range of strategies including:
- mobilising public attention about river pollution,
- regular monitoring of river water quality,
- environmental education and leadership programs for youth and community,
- village safe drinking water programs,
- removing solid waste from River Ganga water along the ghats,
- and advocating for effective sewage treatment systems to solve the problem
The SMF recommends sewage treatment systems based on:
- effective interception and gravity fed diversion of sewage flowing into Ganga;
- treatment that requires minimal electricity;
- removal of dangerous disease causing pathogens,
- complete treatment of sewage to reclaim water and precious nutrients.
- meets the current and projected future needs of Varanasi.
Ganga Action Plan
The Ganga Action Plan has failed to remove pollution of religious bathing areas, with 33 drains discharging raw sewage directly to the river. People living in villages surrounding the sewage treatment plants, face environmental, social and economic ruin because of severe pollution of groundwater, soil and air.
The Sankat Mochan Foundation was founded in 1982 by the late VB Mishra (1939-2013) and a team of dedicated colleagues. Veer Bhadra Mishra was Professor of Hydraulic Engineering at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and Mahant of the Sankat Mochan Temple. Until his last breath, Mahantji took a holy dip in River Ganga water every day. Following his father’s death, Professor Vishwambhar Nath Mishra became President of SMF and Mahant of Sankat Mochan Temple. He is a Professor of Electronics at BHU. The SMF is governed by a dedicated team of honorary directors. They are advised by some of India’s top engineers and scientists. They have collaborated with international support groups in USA, Sweden and Australia for over 25 years.
The SMF held representation on key advisory groups such as the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA). SMF Founder-President Prof VB Mishra was recipient of the prestigious UN Global 500 Award and acclaimed by Time Magazine as a “Hero of the Planet”.
SMF Priority Activities 2017-2020
- Upgrade the Swatcha Ganga Research Laboratory (completed)
- Upgrade Swatcha Ganga Environmental Education Centre
- Install eco-sanitation systems in villages affected by pollution from STP in Chiraigoan Block.
- Community education to facilitate informed active community participation, including targeted programs for women and youth.
- Advocate for effective solutions and bring Government and civil society together to work for the best possible outcomes - CLEAN GANGA by 2020.
The SMF’s remarkable achievements are recognised locally, nationally and globally, including representation on key advisory groups such as the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA). SMF Founder-President Prof VB Mishra was recipient of the prestigious UN Global 500 Award and acclaimed by Time Magazine as a “Hero of the Planet”.
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