Krishna Consciousness & Ecological Awareness


India First Country in the World to Have Specialized Environment Courts
March 15, 2010, 4:12 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

From the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests

In the context of environmental Audit, the Ministry of Environment and Forests is engaged with looking at innovation in governance since the past few months. Two very important initiatives are ongoing, namely the National Green Tribunal (NGT) with a network of specialized Environment Courts and National Environment Protection Authority (NEPA). Delivering a key note address at the two day conference on a ‘Environment Audit – Concerns about Water Pollution in India’ organized by the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India here today, Shri Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State for Environment and Forests (I/C) said the NGT will give the Indian citizen first time judicial remedy as far as environmental damages are concerned. India would be the first country in the world to have such an extensive network of specialized environment courts. Shri Jairam expressed the view that environment is still seen not as an essential function such as economic activity, but as an additional cost that has to be borne. Unless and until, we internalize issues relating to environment as part of normal process of economic decision making, we will not get the kind of seriousness on matters relating to environments. Continue reading

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EXCERPT FROM LIGHT OF THE BHAGAVATA BY A.C. BHAKTIVEDANTA SWAMI PRABHUPADA
February 28, 2010, 10:08 am
Filed under: Vedas

“The Lord reciprocated the feelings of the inhabitants of the forest of Vrindavana. When there was rainfall, the Lord took shelter at the feet of the trees or in the caves and enjoyed the taste of different fruits with his eternal associates the cowherd boys. He played with them, sat with them, and ate fruits with them.”

Light of the Bhagavata, Verse 24

(c) The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc.
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India’s Holy Ganges to Get a Cleanup
February 23, 2010, 10:08 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

By Krishna Pokharel, The Wall Street Journal

VARANASI, India—More than a million devout Hindus bathed in the Ganges River Friday, braving the risk of terrorist attack, stampede and petty crime for the chance to wash away the sins of a lifetime and open the gateway to heaven after death.

But perhaps the greatest threat to the devotees who flocked to Haridwar, India, on one of the most auspicious days of the triennial Kumbh Mela festival, was the water itself.

The river is intensely polluted with sewage and industrial waste. Water-treatment facilities have been unable to keep up with India’s rapid growth, often held back by a shortage of funds and other resources.

A dip in the Ganges River in India is believed by devotees to wash away all sins. But increasingly it has become heavily polluted with sewage and industrial waste. Now, a $4 billion government program aims to clean the river.

Now, the spiritually cleansing waters of the Ganges are about to get some cleaning of their own. The Indian government has embarked on a $4 billion campaign to ensure that by 2020 no untreated municipal sewage or industrial runoff enters the 1,560-mile river.

Only 31% of municipal sewage in India undergoes treatment, according to the Central Pollution Control Board, a government agency in New Delhi, while the rest gets discharged into the country’s rivers, ponds, land and seas, contaminating underground and surface waters. More than 500,000 of the 10.3 million deaths in India in 2004 resulted from waterborne diseases, according to the most recent comprehensive mortality data from the World Health Organization.

The filth in the Ganges holds special resonance for this majority-Hindu nation. The Ganges basin supports more than 400 million of India’s 1.1 billion people, the majority of whom are Hindus, who revere the river as “mother” and “goddess.”
Cleaning the Holy Ganges

The cleanup initiative, which is supported by the World Bank, includes the expansion of traditional treatment facilities and, for the first time in India, the introduction of innovative river-cleaning methods.

Veer Bhadra Mishra, a 70-year-old priest and hydraulics engineer in Varanasi, the holy city downstream from Haridwar, has been a prominent advocate of treatment methods used abroad but not yet in India. His plan: to introduce a system to divert sewage and effluents, before they enter the river, to a series of specially designed ponds, for treatment and ultimately to be used use in irrigation or directed back into the river.

His efforts were mired in court and by opposition from local bureaucrats. The bureaucrats had a “difference of opinion” with Mr. Mishra about the best way to clean the river, says Ramesh Singh, general manager of Ganga Pollution Control Unit, the local government body charged with running government treatment facilities in Varanasi.

Mr. Singh says the technologies already in use were time-tested and reliable, but suffered from a lack of trained manpower and proper infrastructure, and a shortage of funds for equipment maintenance.

Last summer, after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh identified cleaning up the river as a national priority, the government in New Delhi increased funding to operate and maintain conventional treatment facilities, and also approved Mr. Mishra’s plan—giving $184,000 to his organization, the Sankat Mochan Foundation, for the design of a new sewage treatment plant.

The foundation is working with GO2 Water Inc., a Berkeley, Calif., wastewater-technology company. In the plan, 10.5 million gallons of sewage a day—13% of the daily output from Varanasi’s 1.5 million people—will be intercepted daily at the riverbank, and diverted. In a nearby village, water will pass through a series of ponds, where sunlight, gravity, bacteria and microalgae will clean the water. A larger pond system is planned, to process 33% more of the city’s sewage.

The treatment system “will be the best solution for dealing with huge amount of domestic sewage being discharged into Gangaji and other rivers in India,” Mr. Mishra said, using the honorific “ji” with the river’s local name, Ganga.

In Haridwar, the National Botanical Research Institute is developing a wetland with local species of reeds to absorb the polluting elements from the wastewater, according to U.N. Rai, a scientist heading the project. Other wetlands will be developed in other areas “to ease the current pollution load in the river,” Mr. Rai says.

The load is heavy. On a recent winter morning in Varanasi, lab technician Gopal Pandey descended the stone stairs of Tulsi Ghat, one of the holy city’s 84 bathing platforms, to fetch some Ganges water for testing at the Sankat Mochan Foundation, an organization run by Mr. Mishra.

In the laboratory, Mr. Pandey found that each 100 milliliters of the river’s waters were laden with 29,000 fecal coliform bacteria, which potentially cause disease. India says a maximum of 500 per 100 milliliters is safe for bathing in the river. Another sample from downstream, after the Ganges meets a tributary carrying a black mass of thick industrial effluents, showed 10 million bacteria—mostly E-coli—in the same amount of river water. Mr. Pandey’s verdict: “The pollution is at very, very dangerous level.”

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Devotees Pray for Yamuna’s Future With Global Kirtan
January 30, 2010, 10:08 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

by Madhava Smullen, ISKCON News website

Hundreds of thousands of devotees, holy men and pilgrims will gather for the Vrindavana Kumbha Mela, taking a ceremonial dip in the sacred Yamuna River at Keshi Ghat on Saturday January 30th.

The event is held once every twelve years, alongside the official Kumbha Mela, which rotates between the holy places of Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik.

The Vrindavana Mela, held in the village where Lord Krishna appeared on earth 5,000 years ago, and at the river where He once bathed, is always special. But in recent times, there has been an added urgency to the participants’ prayers.

Devotees say that the sanctity of Vrindavana, and especially of the Yamuna River, is in danger. Among other efforts, ISKCON’s second-generation—known as “Kulis”—have launched “Global Kirtan for the Yamuna River,” a prayer which is offered with the intention to save the future of the Yamuna River and Vrindavana in general, and which they will synchronize with ISKCON Vrindavana’s 24-Hour Kirtan chanting program. Continue reading

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EXCERPT FROM LIGHT OF THE BHAGAVATA BY A.C. BHAKTIVEDANTA SWAMI PRABHUPADA
January 15, 2010, 10:08 am
Filed under: Uncategorized


“When the Lord entered the forest of Vrindavana, all the inhabitants of the forest, both animate and inanimate, were eager to receive Him. He saw that the flowers of the forest, all fully blossoming, were weeping in ecstasy, honey flowing down their petals. The waterfalls on the hilly rocks were gladly flowing, and one could hear sweet sounds from the caves nearby.”

Light of the Bhagavata, Verse 24

(c) The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc.
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New commitments from Windsor
December 30, 2009, 10:08 am
Filed under: Global Warming, Religion

From The Alliance of Religions and Conservation

As well as the 30 plus long-term plans formally launched at Windsor by nine of the world’s major faiths – Baha’ism, Buddhism, Christianity, Daoism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Shintoism and Sikhism – dozens of further proposals or partnerships were developed during the event.

The new plans included announcements from the Russian Orthodox Church, Mongolian Buddhists (through Gandan monastery), Cambodian Buddhists, CAFOD, Lebanese Maronite Church and EcoCongregation Scotland, on behalf of the Church of Scotland, that they would be working to create their own long term plan. Other proposals and pledges included:

• The British Council – through David Viner, head of its Climate Change programme, pledging the British Council’s support in working with religious programmes on the environment and climate change, throughout its 165+ offices in more than 100 countries worldwide;

• Dr Azza Karam, of the United Nations Family Planning Association, pledged to expand further the work the UNFPA is undertaking with faith-based NGOs throughout its 120 country offices and five regional offices. Continue reading

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Many Heavens, One Earth: Faith Commitments for a Living Planet
December 15, 2009, 10:08 am
Filed under: Global Warming, Religion

Over 200 faith and community leaders gathered at the Celebration of Faiths and the Environment, a climate summit organized by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation and the United Nations Development Programme

From Windsor 2009

United Nations Secretary-General His Excellency Mr Ban Ki-moon called on political leaders to join the world’s faiths and the United Nations in taking bold steps to address dangerous climate change.

Speaking at Windsor Castle before HRH The Prince Philip and some 200 faith and community leaders at the Celebration of Faiths and the Environment, organised by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation and the United Nations Development Programme, Mr Ban Ki-moon said religions had a vital role to play in inspiring world leaders to “act more courageously” at next month’s critical Copenhagen climate summit.

In a heartfelt speech, that frequently deviated from his prepared text, Mr Ban said: “Science has made it quite clear – plainly clear – that this climate change is happening and accelerating much, much faster than one realises…We have knowhow, we have resources but the only vacuum is political will. You can inspire, you can provoke, you can challenge your leaders, through your wisdom, through your followers.

“Together let us walk a more sustainable path, one that respects our planet and provides for a safer, healthier, more equitable future for all.” Continue reading

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