Arun Krishnmurthy, a passionate conservationist, quit a promising career at Google to form his own NGO in Chennai, calling it the Environmentalist Foundation of India (EFI), which is now active in three Indian cities. One of its most exciting programmes is the Lake Biodiversity Restoration project which has already restored six lakes across the country.
His work has not gone unnoticed, having won the “British Council International Climate Champion Excellence Award” for 2012 he was recently conferred a Rolex Award. Ek Titli.Org got chatting with this 26 years young lad who holds tremendous promise to creating a harmonious and sustainable future.
Could you tell a little about yourself? Your childhood, schooling & education & eventually what led you to become a nature conservationist?
I grew up in suburban Chennai surrounded by lakes which had wild animals ranging from birds, snakes, wild-dogs and more. However with time and an expanding city they all have vanished. I studied at Good Earth a Jiddu Krishnamurti School followed by college education at Madras Christian College and the Indian Institute of Mass Communication. Environment and wildlife have always fascinated me, I couldn’t sit back and watch them get degraded and always wanted to do something to revive and restore environment at our level.
Cite an incident that transformed you to choose this path?
The urban neglect and the empty lives that we live in our cities is what made me go this way. There wasn’t genuine happiness or satisfaction and life was too materialistic, which needed to change and there had to be a purpose, I found mine in Environmental work. The compassion and reciprocation of love in animal company and the satisfaction one has through voluntary work is irreplaceable.
What is Environment Foundation of India & what are the various functions it essays?
EFI is a wildlife conservation and habitat restoration group working out of 9 cities in India. We as an organization believe that it’s time to give back to our environment through voluntary efforts. Our projects focus on protecting animals and the places which belongs to them. Our main projects includes lake restoration, beach clean ups, herbs restoration, stray animal care, eco bags and sparrow reintroduction.
Could you explain the various school programs, the lake cleaning drives & your work on conserving turtles? What impact has it been able to create so far?
EFI recruits volunteers through school orientation programs. We provide a platform to those students who are keenly interested in environment work and have been awaiting an opportunity, once they join the team they participate in various conservation projects, awareness initiatives and research work for improvisation.
Lake restoration is a very important project for us as we all know that water is the basis for life and when cleaned and restored a lake becomes a biodiversified hotspot within urban nerve center. Chennai is the nesting site for Olive Ridley turtles, we cannot participate in the conservation of turtles as there are many organizations working on it already, therefore we do our bit by cleaning the beaches for the nesting turtles.
What are the significant experiences and learning since you started?
Structured execution and sustainability is what matters, one cannot just start and let work go half way. Success of a project depends on its sustainability.
We share this planet with every life form; just because we can talk loud and walk straight it doesn’t make us superior.
Every single day in EFI is filled with such moments as we completely enjoy each other’s company and the work we do.
Apart from being a die-hard environmentalist, what are the other sides to Arun?
Film-making and photography is another passion. Also I enjoy cycling.
You are an inspiration to many, young and old; who are your inspirations? Why?
Every single individual who has volunteered with EFI is my inspiration because they keep the cause and the organization going and growing.