On November 12, 2013, the Govardhan Eco Village (GEV), a project started under the direct inspiration and supervision of Radhanath Swami, was honored at the 34th Skoch Summit in New Delhi. Skoch Awards are the highest independently-instituted civilian honor in India, recognizing people, projects, and institutions for their extraordinary contributions to society. They are coveted due to the exceptional research and rigorous process of selection of the Skoch Development Foundation.

This year, the GEV won the Skoch Platinum Renaissance award for Water Conservation. “The award is a due recognition of the tireless efforts and vision of Radhanath Swami,” said Gauranga Das, Director of the GEV, who accepted the award from Finance Minister P. Chidambaram.

The GEV was bestowed this distinction for its efforts in pioneering a novel “integrated water conservation and protection scheme,” which could prove to be a formidable way to tackle the water security issue in many underdeveloped nations. The growing global crisis caused by the insufficient supply of water to satisfy basic  commercial and agricultural needs is being widely recognized as a threat to human health and a potential source of disastrous conflicts between nations. India today has a rural population of over 800 million, many of whom lack access to safe drinking water and hygienic sanitation. The GEV took a scientific approach to this issue by studying the land topology and underground aquifers, and creating natural systems of water storage to collect the runoff rainwater. While thus conserving rainwater and facilitating recharge of groundwater, the GEV also took care to avoid all sewage management techniques that could potentially contaminate the groundwater, by implementing a green sewage management concept called Soil Biotechnology. Today the GEV conserves over 10 million liters of rainwater and recovers an equal amount of water from sewage, which is then used in irrigating agricultural fields.

Starting humbly in 2003, the GEV today is a thriving farm community and a practical example of Srila Prabhupada’s idea of “simple living and high thinking.” Srila Prabhupada emphasized the adoption of a simpler and more natural, God-conscious way of life. Following his spiritual master’s instructions, Radhanath Swami inspired GEV in setting up an exemplary community model that is centered around service to Mother Earth, humanity and animals. Under Radhanath Swami’s direction, the GEV has embarked on nine initiatives including Organic Farming, Waste Management, Green Building, Alternative Energy, Water Harvesting, Cow Protection, Soil Biotechnology, Rural Empowerment and Environmental Awareness Events.

Many of India’s leading corporations and financial institutions participated in the Skoch Summit, including ONGC, Indian Oil Corporation, Steel Authority of India, Essar Ltd., State Bank of India, the Bombay Stock Exchange, and the National Stock Exchange. Mr. P. Chidambaram was the chief guest, while Mr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of the Indian government’s Planning Commission, and Mr. U.K. Sinha, Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India, were the guests of honor.