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This Organisation Has Restored 39 Lakes in 10 Years. This Year, You Can Help Them Fight Drought!

EFI organizes and executes effective lake cleanup programs in India.

November 2015 was the wettest month in a century for Chennai, a city of 4.3 million people. And on December 1, 2015, the heaviest rain in several decades forced authorities to release a massive 30,000 cusecs from the Chembarambakkam reservoir into the Adyar river over two days, causing it to flood its banks and submerge neighbourhoods on both sides. It did not help that the Adyar is not very deep or wide, and its banks have been heavily encroached upon over the years.

According to the city’s municipality, there are more than 150,000 illegal structures in the city and more than 300 tanks, canals and lakes have disappeared. Several reports after the floods claimed that the disaster had to do little with nature, and was largely man-made.

One man saw this crisis coming almost 10 years ago. Arun Krishnamurthy laid the foundation of Environmentalist Foundation Of India (EFI) in 2007 by volunteering to clean a pond in his neighbourhood in Chennai.

Arun Krishnamurthy

The organization and its efforts grew from that one pond in Chennai to over 39 lakes and 48 ponds to cover Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra, Telangana, Pondicherry and Gujarat in the last 10 years.

“The rapid urbanization and degradation of freshwater bodies in Chennai and Hyderabad that I grew up on has been the primary reason to start EFI. We have everything from Lake View Roads-Apartments and Stadia on our lakes, everything but freshwater. The pain of being denied a freshwater body is the reason why several of us believe in this cause and have been volunteering over the years. Also the fact that a lake/pond is being perceived only in human context is also worrying,” says Arun.

EFI provides a platform for concerned citizens to volunteer to solve environmental issues facing our country. At EFI, it is believed that the effectiveness and impact of a project is not measured by money, but by the level of commitment that the volunteers have towards the cause.


Join us to help 20,000 Villagers in drought-hit Nagapattinam by restoring its lakes and ponds

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How EFI works and how you can help:

1. Conservation – Focusing on ecological conservation of freshwater bodies:

EFI organizes and executes effective lake cleanup programs in India. Under this program, EFI adopts a lake or any water body on a voluntary basis. The water body or beach with its periphery are cleaned, strengthened and restored to its original capacity & beauty. The cleaning process involves a massive removal of physical garbage from the premises.

This is followed by scientific lab testing of the water samples repeatedly to check the contaminants and pollutant levels. Post scientific study, the lake bed is de-silted and the silt is deposited on the bunds and a major bund strengthening program follows soon. The levelled bund is then planted with native saplings, which offer extra support. A small wetland is created towards one corner of the lake to filter out the incoming waste. These wetlands act as the substrate filters, plants like water hyacinth are grown under supervision in this part of the lake alone to ensure filtration.

Details on upcoming projects are updated on EFI’s Facebook page and anyone can volunteer in the projects undertaken.

2. Herbs restoration:

Planting native species varieties around lakes, gardens and residential colonies help attract a lot of birds and other variety of airborne creatures. These native species are important to strengthen the regional biodiversity, regulate water table and help many other organisms to survive. Every school, apartment complex or residential society can plant herbs or native Indian saplings. This will help in restoring a lost biodiversity. By planting these saplings and herbs one can make way for several other insects, animals, birds and others to follow suit.

3. Communication – Focus on mass awareness through photography, video documentaries and street theatre/art:

Two documentary films, Kurma and Elixir Poisoned, has been made by EFI for mass awareness. It also trains its young volunteers in street theatre and drama to take forward the message of conservation to a wider audience. EFI organizes camps at regular intervals focusing on overall youth empowerment,covering areas such as photography, film making, leadership, theatre, effective communication and wild trekking. You can participate in EFI’s Mass Awareness Campaigns, Script-Rehearse and act with them in theirstreet plays. You can also be a part of their social documentaries.

4. Research – You can support EFI with time and effort in futuristic research aimed at conserving our lakes/ponds, focus on climate change etc.:


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5. Management – From legal options to policy-level changes you can give in efforts aimed at making the project holistic.

6. Animal Home – Volunteer with EFI’s Animal Home and feed/clean/play with theirdogs, cats and birds.

“All my classmates love animals, but we never knew where to go to help them. That is when I heard about EFI and joined them in working for the environment,” says 16-year-old ShriKrishna. EFI, in order to inspire young students in schools and colleges into conservation, offers a fellowship called Science Badge.Through this fellowship, interested students are encouraged to be a part of EFI’s team of conservationist.

“Lake clean-ups are so satisfying, we all come together and have so much fun clean the dirt of our lakes. But once the activity is over and I look at the lake, I feel like crying as there is still more trash left. People keep dumping waste into lakes/rivers, I do not understand how they can do it,” says 14-year-old Drithi.

EFI hosts volunteers from across the globe of all ages. Interested volunteers can sign up for EFI projects and stay with them for a period of one week to 30 days. Volunteers are provided accommodation and food at EFI’s Volunteer Home in Chennai at nominal prices.

“Environment conservation is no choice or compulsion, it is common sense. We share this planet with all other life-forms and it is not just about us. We are paying a price with heat, flooding, health issues and still do not relate it to our daily mistakes. This is an invitation to all those who wish to be changemakers to participate in on-ground, real time environment conservation work. Not a photo opportunity but an effort towards securing our future,” says Arun.

Tamil Nadu witnessed 606 farmer suicides last year. Since October 2016, it has seen two farmers committing suicides daily. It is facing the worst drought India has seen in the last 140 years. The North-East monsoon, which serves as the key source of water for the region, failed drastically, with a deficit of 62% from the previous year. This, combined with overexploitation of ground water, lower reservoir levels, the Cauvery water dispute and crop stress conditions, has left the state parched and has been claiming the lives of two farmers every day since October 2016. Nagapattinam district has been the worst hit due to this acute water shortage and has seen the maximum number of farmer suicides. The Better India, along with The Environmentalist Foundation of India (EFI), has launched #FightDrought, a LAKE & POND RESTORATION campaign that will focus on cleaning, desilting, deepening and restoring two ponds in the region.

To volunteer at EFI or to know more about them, you can mail at info@indiaenvironment.org or call on: 9677097824. 


Join us to help 20,000 Villagers in drought-hit Nagapattinam by restoring its lakes and ponds

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Written by Manabi Katoch

A Mechanical Engineer-turned-writer, Manabi finds solace in writing stories about unsung heroes. Nothing makes her happier than the impact emails from her readers. Other than writing, she loves listening to the stories told by her six year old daughter. Manabi can be reached at manabi@thebetterindia.com. You can also find her tweets @manabi5