Arun Krishnamurthy

Arun Krishnamurthy (born 1986) is an Indian environmental activist who has initiated campaign cleaning various lakes across India. He is known for founding the NGO, Environmentalist Foundation of India (EFI) in 2011 based in Chennai which has its branches in other cities such as Hyderabad, Delhi and Coimbatore. Arun with the organisation has been successful in cleaning over 17 lakes in the country and having worked in Google before quitting the job to dedicate voluntarily. He was chosen as among the five people for prestigious Rolex Awards for Enterprise award in 2012 for scientific lake restoration in Chennai.

Arun spent his childhood in Mudichur, a village 29 km from Chennai. He had said that he was inspired by a village panchayat head, Dhamodharan who had encouraged people to collect the garbage from the pond to keep it clean. Arun’s friend Karthik Shivasundaram was also his inspiration. He enjoys film-making, photography and cycling. Krishnamurthy completed his bachelor’s in microbiology from Madras Christian College and worked at Google, Hyderabad for over three years. Arun then went to study in The Indian Institute of Mass Communication in Delhi. He then joined Goodall’s Roots & Shoots in India in 2008, an organisation that helps young people to resolve problems within the communities. Arun owns his company Business Krish Info Media, which works in the area of Digital media marketing, corporate training and business development.

Arun worked at Google but later quit to start his own company. Arun had stated that environment and wildlife has always attracted him, but the degradation of the urban greenery had motivated him to protect it. Krishnamurthy had founded an internationally recognised organisation, EFI which is self-funded and was registered as a trust in 2012. The organisation recruits volunteers mainly through school programmes including seminars and workshops. Their main projects include lake restoration, beach clean ups, herbs restoration, stray animal care and eco bags introduction.

Arun started with cleaning the Gurunadham Lake in Hyderabad and a lake in Delhi and included several other programmes such as ‚Green Gramam‘, which is a development plan for establishing eco-friendly villages, ‚AniPal‘ which is stray animal care programme and ‚Waste Not‘ which offers waste management solutions. They have set up 19 biodiversity parks in schools. Krishnamurthy is involved in a 16-month project which not only provides physical garbage removal but also puts fencing in the lakes to protect them from human activities as in the case of cleaning beach from Injambakkam to Besant Nagar in Chennai. Arun has further told that they have introduced animal ambulance for street animals and on establishing one animal rescue and a rehabilitation centre in Chennai and Hyderabad by 2015.

He as a team follows a scientific approach towards cleaning and saving aquatic species. On wildlife conservation, the team is currently focusing on freshwater life forms, birds that are dependent on the lakes where many turtles live. Arun plans blocking access to any lake once cleaning is completed so that the aquatic plants and species would be protected. Krishnamurthy had won Google Alumni Impact Award in 2011 for restoring lakes in Hyderabad. He had directed documentary films such as ‘Caught By’, which focuses on land and sea connection and fishes in the lakes Kurma (2010), for which he received a British Council International Climate Champion Excellence Award for showing the poor condition of sea turtles and Elixir Poisoned (2011) which highlights the need to protect the aquatic environment.

Arun along with his team EFI is credited in cleaning many lakes in Tamil Nadu with majority of them in Chennai. Different methods were employed for scientific restoration such as including „G“ shaped central island for aquatic species, percolation trenches for effective water harvesting, reef bed for growing plankton and installation of decentralised water treatment plant in case of Selvachintamani Kulam lake in Coimbatore. It had also included entire lake division into patches and removal of wastes such as glass, plastic, poultry waste and construction debris from Madambakkam lake and repeated clean up of physical garbage with study of the soil pattern and the quality of water in Keezhkattalai lake along with raising awareness and mass sensitisation campaign among the people. The funding for the restoration had also been done through crowdsourcing with support from the local corporation as well.

Arun’s organisation EFI has 212 volunteers in Chennai and membership of over 1000 in India by July 2013. Krishnamurthy is credited in cleaning 17 lakes in the country including five in Chennai. Arun had mentioned that his NGO plans to clean over 20 lakes by 2016. Arun also wants to initiate conservation projects for the corporate and start activities in neighbour countries such as Nepal and Bhutan. He had said that he does not see personal success in winning Rolex award but as a team effort. Arun had stated that he is not happy with the people who think that without going on the ground the lakes would be free from garbage and dirt. He believes in becoming that somebody for India’s environment and protecting it with laying stress on public support through awareness campaigns.

The EFI has received voluntary support from celebrities of film industry as well, including Kamal Hasan and Trisha Krishnan.

During the 2015 floods in Chennai and areas of Tamil Nadu, Arun with his organisation EFI was involved in relief work in Chennai and several villages in Cuddalore District.