Founder of the Environmentalist Foundation of India (EFI), Arun Krishnamurthy is an environmental activist who initiated a campaign to clean and restore lakes across India. The EFI functions with a team of 20 full-time members and over 82,000 volunteers annually. Krishnamurthy and his team are currently active in 16 Indian states. They have successfully cleaned 185 lakes in the country and restored aquatic life in the water bodies. Apart from lake conservation EFI has launched an ocean conservation project named ‘Samudra’ to raise awareness about the beaches of the Indian coastal line and prevent their exploitation as recreational hubs.
Arun has been mentioned and honored by various national and international organizations for his contributions through multiple initiatives to environmental conservation. According to studies, more than 70% of the surface water in India is polluted and the key reason behind it is the mismanagement of industrial and domestic waste. Being a man of action, Arun took up this problem solo. Soon, people got inspired by his actions, resulting in the formation of EFI, which receives funds for its work through various philanthropists aiding the cause.
“All of us keep waiting for somebody: ‘Will there not be one person who will come and prevent all of this? But then I thought, ‘You can’t change the world. But you can change where you are.’”
Arun Krishnamurthy, EFI Founder
Arun Krishnamurthy: Early Life and Education
Arun was born in Mudichur, a village 29 km away from Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu. He spent his childhood there and completed his schooling at Good Earth School. Arun showed early concerns towards environmental conservation when he joined an initiative by his area’s Sarpanch to collect garbage from a nearby pond and keep it clean. Not aware that he would one day create a revolution for water body conservation, Arun went to Madras Christian College, where he completed his Bachelor’s in Microbiology.
After a three-year stint at Google, Arun quit his corporate job to devote more time to environmental issues. He went to the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi, to study advertising and public relations. Arun also did a course from the IHE Delft Institute for Water Education to better understand the issues related to surface water bodies and discover new sustainable ways to conserve and prevent them from extinction.
Arun Krishnamurthy: Awards and Achievements
Arun has received several awards, honors, and features globally for his contributions to lake restoration in India. Arun Krishnamurthy’s story of becoming an iconic environmentalist is well known in the southern Indian region, and he is also appreciated for his environmental documentary films. His travel documentary series ‘Neerum Neelamum’, about the rivers of Tamil Nadu, which he shot in collaboration with the Environmental Film association, aired on television for eight months.
- Arun received the Rolex Award for Enterprise in 2012 in Geneva, becoming the youngest person to win the award.
- He won the British Council International Climate Champion Excellence Award in 2010.
- Arun was honored with the Jane Goodall Institute Global Youth Leadership Award in 2010.
- He was chosen as one of the 40 under 40 young leaders by The New Indian Express. In addition, CNN named Arun as one of the Environmental Heroes to inspire in 2021.
- Time Magazine named Arun Krishnamurthy a ‘Next Generation Leader’ in 2022 in one of their series, appreciating young people from various sectors around the globe who are working to build a better world.
- The work of EFI under Arun’s leadership was recently acknowledged by the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, in Man Ki Baat on 27 march 2022, which led to more volunteers coming forward and joining the cause.
Vision and Future Aspirations
Arun wants to educate the population about the importance of natural surface water in the coming years. “We’re at a really critical juncture now. How do we sustain India’s development, and make sure all our fellow human beings are taken care of, with minimal damage to nature?”. He started with this question in mind, and today he has discovered a course of action to contribute to its solution. In the future, he wants the EFI to expand gradually and work towards more awareness and initiatives of action. Arun vision is as inspiring as his journey, and he is progressively transforming the world so we can all have a great lake view.