Amrit Sagar Environmental Center

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Amrit Sagar (“Ocean of Nectar”) Environmental Center is a working model of the best environmental practices and a teaching center demonstrating traditional and innovative sustainable practices readily available and practical to implement. Already under construction, the ten-acre facility is situated on the undeveloped eastern bank of the Ganges River, directly across from sister project Bal Ashram, and a short boat ride from Varanasi’s city center.

AMRIT SAGAR IN THE NEWS

Modern Varanasi is an urban concrete jungle of 1.5 million people who never breathe clean air, experience a moment of relaxation beneath a tree or see their children play on clean soil. Amrit Sagar will give people an inspiring vision of ecological improvement, and then give them the tools to make that vision real.

Just imagine, in a city that used to be called the “Forest of Bliss,” where today, little to no parks or open green space can be found, concrete buildings have replaced gardens and fields along the west side of the sacred river banks and throughout the city, and an influx of tourists and pilgrims has caused increased development that the current infrastructure does not support. Roads cannot handle the number and kinds of vehicles, an inadequate waste management system results in littered city streets and neighborhoods, and overwhelming pollution is caused by generators (due to lack of electricity), burning of trash and a highly increased number of gas/diesel fuel vehicles. Children in Varanasi don’t even have a natural place to play.

Amrit Sagar will be the first of its kind in Varanasi and surrounding region where:

  • Eco-friendly gardens and educational parks run along the east side of the river which until now has been untouched by developers and government agencies, but who already have their eyes on these precious plots of land.
  • School children will come and learn about the environment, gardening and planting, and participate in being kind to the environment. They will play in a natural environment with trees and grass, which are nonexistent in the city today.
  • All will learn how to implement innovative ideas such as recycling, composting, organic farming, eco-friendly building and use of sustainable energy (solar, bio-gas, wind) with materials readily available in the city.
  • The ancient science of Ayurveda will be preserved by plantation of herbs and other medicinal plants which are quickly disappearing in forests far from the city.

Just imagine how this model facility will impact the city and lives of people who live there, struggling to make their living surrounded by polluted air, contaminated water and scarcity.

Amrit Sagar Phase I Progress and Objectives

On the three acres of land already acquired, we are creating a small learning center and mini-farm run according to the latest environmentally friendly technology and practices. Expected to be operational by summer 2010, the first phase of Amrit Sagar will include:

  • An organic dairy with 10 cows
  • A bio-gas system
  • Solar technology
  • Sustainable farming: organic vegetables, herbs and Ayurvedic medicinal plants
  • Bee farming
  • Chicken coop
  • A visitor’s center and small residential area
  • Tours for the general public
  • Educational programs for school children and youth from the city to learn about planting, composting, recycling, conservation and sanitation
  • Educational programs for regional farmers to learn about sustainable practices they can implement on their farms

This initial phase of Amrit Sagar will also bring sister project Bal Ashram towards self-sufficiency. Our goal is to produce not only enough milk, vegetables, eggs, oils and honey for Bal Ashram, but also to sell our surplus to the community. We intend to generate a revenue stream from a micro-business that covers Bal Ashram’s operational needs, and that the older children at Bal Ashram can run.

Experts from various departments at Banaras Hindu University are lending their time and expertise to guide the project. Our primary advisor, Dr. Saket Kushwaha, Head of Agricultural Economics, is intimately involved with Phase I and is helping to create a master plan for future phases of the project.

For more information about Amrit Sagar, please visit www.amritsagar.org.


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