Cleaning up India’s lakes

23 May 2013 | Article

With the support of a Rolex Award for Enterprise, a young man – Arun Krishnamurthy – is following his true passion to conserve the environment by spearheading a campaign to clean up the urban lakes of India.

In India, where the spread of urbanization is threatening natural water sources, Arun Krishnamurthy, with the help of hundreds of young volunteers, is reclaiming neglected lakes for the benefit of wildlife such as the Indian Pond Heron (Ardeola grayii), Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis), the Peepal tree (Ficus religiosa) and pond turtles.

At just 26 years old, Arun has already established an NGO, the Environmentalist Foundation of India (EFI), which is based in Chennai and active in three Indian cities. With the assistance of the volunteers recruited through schools and street theatre performances, EFI has already restored 12 lakes across India. Now, with support from his Rolex Award for Enterprise, Arun and EFI are working hard to restore severely polluted Lake Kilkattalai in Chennai.

The clean-up of Lake Kilkattalai began last year and the first phase, comprising the removal of rubbish and silt, was completed in August. The second stage will include dredging, fencing and further strengthening of the lake’s embankments. With the Award backing and the number of volunteers increasing, Arun is confident that the project will achieve its targets on time.

Once the clean-up is complete, there will be no public access to the lake, allowing it to become a safe haven for birds and aquatic species and plants. EFI will continue to care for the lake and Arun hopes it will become an example of how other lakes in the county can be restored.

The confidence boost provided by the Rolex Award has encouraged Arun and EFI to do even more for the environment. In addition to the clean-up at Lake Kilkattalai, EFI has earmarked 17 more lakes to restore, and is establishing an animal home and mobile ambulance in Chennai that will be operational inthe near future. EFI is also developing a fellowship called “Science Badge”, which will be offered to students across India who are interested in scientific research and environment conservation.

If you are aged 18 to 30 and have an environmental project that would benefit from the funding and support of a Rolex Award, visit www.rolexawards.com to submit your application.


Bengal Tiger being Released into the wild from a boat in the Sundarbans