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| Last Updated:26/03/2014

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Taking a polluted Yamuna to the big screen

The Hindu, 26 March 2014


Film director Sanjay Barnela during the interview in New Delhi on Tuesday— Sushil Kumar Verma


Filmmaker Sanjay Barnela talks about the driving force that made him focus on this highly polluted river for his film


A Delhi-based environment filmmaker, Sanjay Barnela is all set to capture on screen various vignettes of the highly polluted Yamuna River.


Exasperated with the state of affairs, though a mind boggling Rs. 1,500 crore has been spent to resuscitate this dying river over the past two decades, Mr. Barnela is now making an environmentally-conscious film.


Mr. Barnela, who has made a series of films on the politics of water conservation and is now making a series on the Forest Rights Act, says Yamuna has now been reduced to a sewage drain as people have been mindlessly and relentlessly dumping garbage from the ITO flyover despite clear cut instructions from the authorities.


“Due to industrial effluents flowing into the Yamuna, the river is filled with pollutants like lead, arsenic and mercury.”


The filmmaker, who is now studying the ecology in the area, will soon interview local children and their families, who look after elephants on the embankments of the Yamuna.


Mr. Barnela, who hopes that the feature film would compel policymakers to come up with drastic measures to prevent the Yamuna from getting filthier and more polluted, says every time while crossing the ITO Bridge he feels guilty that as a publicly-conscious filmmaker he has been unable to do his bit to save the river.


“Dumping of household garbage and disposal of waste by industries has polluted the river to such an extent that even bathing in the river can lead to skin diseases,” he adds.


Adding to the pollution crisis is the problem of governance. Mr. Barnela says water is being managed by six Ministries, including Water Resources, Urban Development, Rural Development and Ministry of Agriculture.


“This creates issues in governance. In order to get the official version, we will get a perspective from government officials. They have the blueprint for cleaning the river. We will be reaching out to several people living in Vasant Vihar, outer Delhi areas like Najafgarh and unauthorised colonies in trans-Yamuna area to get their views,” he adds.


The film will be different from his earlier movie “Hunting Down Water”, which examined access, distribution and regulation of water. It had used simple facts to highlight misuse of water.


“For instance, Delhi has 30 lakh cars and each owner uses approximately 15 litre of water to clean it every day. We need to use waste water to wash cars and water our gardens instead of wasting precious potable water,” he notes.