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Updated: January 27, 2010 17:20 IST

A call to arms

JAYASHREE ARUNACHALAM
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Documentary filmmaker Saraswati Kavula
Documentary filmmaker Saraswati Kavula

Saraswati Kavula on the ugly side of industrialisation

She's a small woman with a large purpose and an impressive vision. Standing in the fore of the room, hands gesturing and voice eloquently pitched over the crowd, Saraswati Kavula is quite an inspiration.

Talking to a group of people at the Goethe-Zentrum institute, this documentary-maker's passion is more than evident. Travelling the country, she has several documentaries to her credit. These predominantly dealing with environmental issues and the trade-off between industrialisation and indigenous communities.

Screening her 2009 film Coast Under Attack to the group, Saraswati says, “Special Economic Zones (SEZs) imply the transfer of control of land and sea from communities to private companies. They operate like foreign entities and aren't held responsible for any consequences.”

Coast Under Attack looks at the impact of SEZs in Andhra Pradesh, including those at Madhurawada, Mambattu and Kakinada. In Mambattu, a Taiwanese manufacturer for Adidas called Apache operates in an area peopled by fishermen, shepherds and farmers. Over 800 families lost their livelihood with less than 50 getting the promised employment out of the SEZ.

“History tells us that this isn't the model of development we should follow,” says Saraswati. “SEZs are an extension of colonialism, with profit at any cost as its motive.”

The questions flow thick and fast from the audience, mostly dealing with the positive side of SEZs and the possibility of achieving a balance. Solutions range from the adoption of villages by the respective SEZs, to the necessity of environmentally-friendly operations. However, Saraswati is unconvinced.

“There should be more democratic decisions and informed choices,” says Saraswati. “We need to talk about it. There are many more Bhopals just waiting to happen.”

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