You'd assume 14,000 kilometres of embankments would have helped Bihar. Well, it's certainly helping several government officials, who simply love Flood Relief.
The Documentary Circle of the Hyderabad Film Club, in association with Magic Lantern Foundation, Delhi, and ECOMOVE International, Germany, is organizing a 3-day mini-festival of films on the politics of environment, called Point Of View. The films will be screened at the Prasad's Preview Theatre everyday, from 6:00pm to 9:00pm, between 16th and 18th February.
Environment is a political issue, whether we like it or not. Today's conflicts are more about the control of natural resources than anything else. We see these conflicts in our day-to-day life, whether it is for control of land and water, or a question of who pollutes and who pays, they are all about people's problems, and thus influence the politics of our day. It is happening around us, but we do not realize it. And when there is a realization, there is a lack of perspective. The perspective doesn't happen because, more often than not, environmental film festivals talk about non-controversial issues.
Point Of View is a sincere effort to look beyond the obvious, to give a platform for the alternative voices and untold stories. Most of these films have enjoyed wide viewership and appreciation elsewhere in India and abroad. The films straddle a wide spectrum of subjects, from India becoming a dump yard for the wastes created by European consumerism to the effects of depleted Uranium on American soldiers; from fishermen's woes in Tamil Nadu to a lone woman's fight against a toxic dump in South Africa; from the World Bank's environmental politics to locals' anger against tourism in Goa, from the horror stories of genetic engineering in Canada to the scams behind flood control in Bihar.
Today, the last day, River Taming Mantras, an Indian documentary about the politics/scams of flood control in Eastern India, by Sanjay Barnela and Vasant Saberwal, will be screened. Large parts of Eastern India are subject to annual flooding. Over the last 50 years, the government has built 14,000 kilometres of embankments in an attempt to tame the rivers of eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam and Orissa. Despite the massive expenditure, losses to flooding and the area that is now vulnerable to flooding, have only increased. 16% of Bihar is now permanently waterlogged, a direct consequence of the construction of embankments.
River Taming Mantras explores the technological, economic and political rationale that underlies the adoption of such flood control measures. The film demonstrates that because these rivers carry an enormous silt load, they have enormous power. Attempts to control these rivers are unlikely to succeed. On the other hand, the vast sums spent on the building and maintenance of these embankments provides endless opportunities for the siphoning of funds. Flood Relief is a milk cow no one wants to see go dry!
The screenings are free for all. For further details, please contact Bh S S Prakash Reddy of the Hyderabad Film Club at 2373-0841/93910-20243.