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Sankat Mochan Foundation (SMF)

Abstract The Sankat Mochan (“removal of suffering”) Foundation (SMF) is a secular non-profit organization dedicated to restoring the River Ganga (Ganges) and its immediate environs from industrial and domestic pollution. Simultaneously one of the most sacred and most polluted rivers in the world, the Ganges is revered by Hindus as Mother Ganga, source of purity and eternal life. At Varanasi, one of India’s holiest cities, approximately 60,000 pilgrims a day dip themselves in Ganga’s sacred water. SMF was founded in Varanasi by Dr. Veer Bhadra Mishra, Head of the Department of Civil Engineering at Banaras Hindu University and Head Priest of the Sankat Mochan Temple. Motivated by devotion to Mother Ganga as well as environmental and public health concerns, Mishra established the Foundation to pursue the goal of attaining a clean and healthy Ganga through education, non-polluting drainage and waste treatment technology, political advocacy, and scientific research. Drawing on science, technology and religion to restore and protect the Ganga from chemical pollution, sewage, and other forms of waste, SMF reflects Mishra’s dual role as civil engineer and priest by balancing scientific and technological approaches to pollution control and prevention with respect for religious beliefs about the purifying power of Mother Ganga. Through its Swatcha Ganga (Clean Ganga) Campaign, the SMF has launched a number of pollution prevention initiatives since 1983. As a result of SMF’s efforts, the Indian government initiated the Ganga Action Plan (GAP) in 1985 with the stated goal of cleaning up the river by 1993. When it became clear that that GAP Phase I was failing due to inappropriate and poorly designed sewage treatment plants, SMF began focusing its efforts on implementing alternative sewage technologies. At present, major SMF programs and initiatives include the Swatcha Ganga Research Laboratory for monitoring the river’s water quality; Swatcha Ganga Environmental Education Centre, which seeks to combine ecological education with traditional beliefs and practices; the School Program for raising the issue of pollution in Varanasi Schools; the Village Program to help villagers attain clean water and protect the health of their communities; and the Ghat Program, which promotes care for the Ganga among the countless boatmen, Ghat priests, and washer-people that work along and in the river.
Religion Hinduism
Geographic Location India
Duration of Project 1982–Present

Founded by Dr. Veer Bhadra Mishra and a group of citizens and engineers from Varanasi, the Sankat Mochan Foundation was registered as a non-profit organization in 1982. SMF launched its Swatcha Ganga (Clean Gages) campaign the following year. In 1986, the Indian Government implemented Phase I of the Ganga Action Plan (GAP): construction of three sewage treatment plants, pumping stations and electric crematoriums at Varanasi. In 1992, SMF and its United States (US) partner, Friends of the Ganges (FOG), sponsored an international conference entitled, “Pollution Control in River Cities of India: A Case Study of Ganga at Varanasi.” That same year, Misha was placed on the United Nations Environmental Program’s Global 500 Roll of Honour at United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The following year, SMF and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, established The Swatcha Ganga Research Laboratory to document problems with GAP Phase I. In 1997, SMF and Oswald-Green LLC submitted a detailed report to the Indian government concerning GAP Phase II. In 1998, SMF, Ozwald-Green, and FOG opened the Swatcha Ganga Environmental Center at Tulsi Ghat.

Mission Statement In working toward its goal of a clean and healthy Ganga, the Sankat Mochan Foundation aims to: restore and preserve the Ganga by alleviating its fast deteriorating environmental condition; promote education and health care programs for the less privileged members of society; maintain and encourage the age-old cultural traditions of the ancient city of Varanasi; and propagate the literature of Swami Tulsidas Ji.
Partner Organizations Friends of the Ganges
Ozwald-Green of Australia
Swedish Society for Nature Conservation
Long-Term Goals None Listed
Bibliography None Listed
Additional Research Resources None Listed
Contact Information Sankat Mochan Foundation
15 Tulsi Ghat
Varanasi 221 001 India
Ph/Fax:       +91 542 231 4278
Email:        .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)