After restoring 39 lakes and 48 ponds in seven south states, Indian environmentalist Arun Krishnamurthy is set to take the fight against pollution to remaining states of the country and beyond. As an expert panelist, the founder of Environmentalist Foundation of India will be at ‘Dharitri Youth Conclave 2022 on Climate Change: The Power of Youth’ to be held in Bhubaneswar and sharing his thoughts with the nature lovers.

At a time when the number and size of waterbodies are shrinking faster than ever due to rampant urbanisation, astonishingly 39 lakes and 48 ponds in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Puducherry and Gujarat have been restored to their previous state. The man who has made this miracle a reality in just over a decade is 36- year-old Arun Krishnamurthy, a former Google employee. The founder of Chennai-based Environmentalist Foundation of India (EFI), a committed activist to the cause of conservation of lakes and other waterbodies across India, has found a mention in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Mann Ki Baat in March. EFI, launched in 2007 and officially registered four years later, specialises in cleaning, restoring and aerating ponds, lakes and rivers across the country, southern states in particular.

Taking a community-based collaborative effort, focusing on the revival of freshwater bodies, the conservation group has its presence in 16 states including Odisha. Just a year after launching EFI, in May 2008, Arun embarked upon his first project – cleaning up of Gurunadham Cheruvu lake of Andhra Pradesh. Over 60 volunteers showed up through word of mouth; the corporation sent garbage trucks, the city’s Commissioner came himself, and with eight weeks of systematic cleaning they made a big difference to the lake which was on the brink of disappearance.

Arun says more than 70% of surface water in the country is polluted, largely because of the poor management of industrial and domestic waste. “We’re at a really critical juncture now,” Krishnamurthy says. “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 asks. By 2025, Krishnamurthy wants EFI to be working in all of India’s and to launch nature restoration projects in Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and Bangladesh.

Talking about recognition for this Indian environmentalist, Arun was honoured with the Rolex Awards for Enterprise in 2012 for his lake restoration efforts in Chennai and British Council International Climate Champion Excellence Award two years prior to that. Prestigious Time Magazine also named Arun in 2022 as one of its ‘Next Generation Leader’, a series elevating young people from across fields and around the globe who are working to build a better world.