Dr.Veer Bhadra Mishra(Mahantji) is the founding president of the Sankat Mochan Foundation. He is a former professor of Hydraulic engineering and former Head of the Civil Engineering Department at the Banaras Hindu University. He is also the Mahant (High Priest) of the Sankat Mochan Temple at Varanasi founded by poet-saint Goswami Tulsidas. Dr Mishra was recognized on the United Nations Environmental Program’s Global 500 Roll of Honour in 1992, and was a TIME Magazines “Hero of the Planet” recipient in 1999 for his work related to cleaning of Ganga through the Sankat Mochan Foundation.
His education has helped him understand threats to the Ganges, and since 1982 he has struggled to open the eyes of bureaucrats and the public. Supported in part by aid from the various individuals and some Govt. agensies of U.S. and Sweden, Mishra juggles his roles as priest and activist.
Motivated most of all by “respect and love for the river,” Mishra, working with William Oswald, an engineering professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, proposed what is called an Advanced Integrated Wastewater oxidation Pond System (AIWPS). It would store sewage for 45 days, using bacteria and algae to eliminate waste and purify the water. Mishra expects the plan to be adopted but recalls past defeats.