Urbanisation will spell disaster for Goa: Green filmmaker

By Mayabhushan Nagvenkar, IANS
Tuesday, November 23, 2010

PANAJI - A woman who has tracked down and visually documented disappearing lakes in New Delhi’s periphery now says rampant unplanned urbanisation will spell disaster for Goa.

Ishani Dutta, whose documentary film “The Land of the Vanishing Lakes” will be screened at the Short Film Centre (SFC) of the 41st International Film Festival of India (IFFI), told IANS that planned urbanisation was the only way for Goa to sustain itself.

Rampant unplanned urbanisation will spell disaster for the local inhabitants of Goa. It is imperative that you learn lessons from other cities and encourage planned urbanisation, she said.

Aggressive civil society groups in the state have demanded an end to mega housing projects and rampant, indiscriminate mining in the state.

Already screened at the American Centre for the Red Earth Festival 2009 and the CMS Vatavaran Film Festival 2009, Ishani’s “The Land of the Vanishing Lakes” is competing for the coveted Vasudha Award at the festival this year. The Vasudha Award is the only state sponsored award for a film on environment and carries a purse of Rs.3 lakh.

Speaking about how she came up with the subject of vanishing lakes as a subject for her documentary, Ishani said: I have been visiting these lakes since childhood and the lakes completely disappeared in the last two to three years. I wanted to dig out the reasons and one thing led to the other.

The most popular lakes of NCR have disappeared. The two billion year old water bodies of the Aravallis - Surajkund, Badkhal and Damdama - have all dried up, she said.

This film looks at the nexus between the corrupt bureaucracy with the construction and the mining mafia. With exclusive bytes from retired forest officers, environmentalists and scientists, we piece together the whole story behind the current mess, Ishani said, adding that the film ends with a ray of hope, in spite of apparent ecological disaster and offers a way-ahead in devastated areas.

She said the film took six months to complete and several reconnaissance trips, but would require support from the media and NGOs to reach out to people at several levels in the government agencies who have the power to stop illegal mining and urbanisation.

They (illegal miners) may not stop because there is a huge amount of money involved in the mining business, but yes it did raise awareness among people. There was a huge uproar on the issue in the media. Today there is only limited mining allowed in the region. Clandestine mining is on as reported by some agencies, she pointed out.

Speaking about the importance of initiatives such as the short film centre at the IFFI, she said such forums provided a huge platform to voice concerns involving environment and society.

This might further help us get funds for our future endeavours, said Ishani, whose earlier documentaries have focused on subjects like the alarming growth of HIV/AIDS in the transport sector, environment conservation through nature worship and groundwater depletion in Haryana.

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