Imagine you are late for office and so, you are darting down the street. In front of you, you find three plastic bottles on the sidewalk. The trash can is just across the street. Chances are you would continue walking, criticizing the person or group who had left behind that waste.
Well, Arun Krishnamurthy was sick of being deliberately ignorant about waste creation. And so, he took a massive step.
Quitting his job at tech-giant Google, he started an eco-movement. Now, his movement has successfully cleaned and restored about 93 freshwater bodies in about 14 states in India. The Environmentalist Foundation of India (EFI) grew out of a community-led movement and is now a non-profit wildlife conservation group, involved in habitat restoration as well. It started back in 2007 and has made efforts to maintain the balance of our environment.
Krishnamurthy has lived among water bodies in his youth. He knows how peaceful it was to live with fish, frogs and greenery all around. But he saw the environment change around him slowly. Waste accumulation changed the place that he once held dear. He could not take it. And so, at 32, he left his high-paying job at Google to be an active environmentalist. Did he regret it? According to him – no. He is well put together and is certain when he takes a decision. He wanted to clean the environment and so, with the support of the local panchayat, he started restoring water bodies present in Chennai. He also went to other cities. Thankfully, the State and Central Governments supported him. They don’t ask for funds but they need approvals which the government readily provides. According to Krishnamurthy, there is an assertive vibe towards environmental change in the country and so, he did not have to face many problems in this respect.
Well, it’s clear that his work is an inspiration for many. And so, many school students as well as veteran conservationists take part in the conservation process and has come out with slogans like “Volunteer for India and her Environment with EFI”. EFI has successfully cleaned off weeds, trash and even strengthened the bunds present in certain water bodies like Pei Kulam at Tuticorin, Egatoor pond present in Chennai, and others.
EFI has not left kids behind either. They have a project called Cyclakes where weekend cycle tours are conducted to the cleaned lakes so that the children become aware of the wonders of a clean environment. Even people interested in fitness can visit these serene areas.
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Krishnamurthy is not someone willing to stop at something. He even had a creative initiative called ‘Wall-E’. It was a wall painting awareness initiative where many volunteers painted their feelings about biodiversity and wildlife on walls – a perfect mode for spreading awareness. The more awareness, the more people gathered for the group. Along with these volunteers and the government, the organization also gets backed by The Murugappa Group, The Hinduja Group, Shriram Group and many others. They even get funds from these parts. His efforts also got him an award in 2012 – The Rolex Awards for Enterprise – an award that supports people who try to improve life on our planet.
For the activist, making other people aware and convincing them to join him was the most difficult thing. Once the local community joined him, he knew things can be sorted out easily and fast.
EFI has been working in many cities like Pune, Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Puducherry, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, and many more. They have about 39 active projects going on and will start moving into Kanyakumari, Vijayawada and Mysuru.
He is truly an inspiration. We can learn a lot from Arun Krishnamurthy.