The upcoming environment film festival in the Capital will explore pertinent issues on biodiversity

For noted environmentalist Alka Tomar, the need to preserve the country’s biodiversity is of utmost importance. As the director of CMS Vatavaran, Environment and Wildlife Film Festival, Ms. Tomar said this year “Mainstreaming Biodiversity Conservation” has been chosen as the theme because India is home to rich and diverse biodiversity which is being threatened by rampant industrialisation and population explosion.

“In comparison to other countries, India has a rich biodiversity. If we see this from an international perspective, it feels good but India being a developing country is faced with inherent challenges. So the challenge is how to maintain our biodiversity. Accordingly this year, we will have discussions on Himalayas, coastal regions, protected areas and Western Ghats.”

The festival’s sub-themes include coastal and marine biodiversity, forest biodiversity, mountain biodiversity, and inland waters and wetlands biodiversity.

The festival will be held in the open for the first time. It will be held from January 30 to February 3 at the sprawling lawns of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts here.

Ms. Tomar feels films on environmental issues play a vital role in disseminating the message on conservation to both the public and policy-makers. In this context, she is disheartened that Bollywood has so far not touched upon environmental issues. “Bollywood’s track record on making films on environmental issues has been abysmal. One felt that a commercial film like Kaal would have presented a realistic picture of our wildlife and forests but it was on ghosts and supernatural stuff.”

However, Ms. Tomar feels there is still hope as there are people in the film industry who are concerned about environmental degradation and are now showing their willingness to invest in such films. “Actor-producer John Abraham has partnered with Mike Pandey to make a feature film on tigers. The film has not been completed but there might be a discussion on its making at our festival. Mike Pandey will be one of the participants.”

The festival will also highlight wildlife issues. “There will also be a session on the Supreme Court’s earlier judgment to ban tourism from the core areas of tiger sanctuaries. Personally, I feel that we need to give space to tigers in their sanctuaries, especially when we have seen the ugly consequences of irresponsible tourism like stalking the big cats. So we need to go in for responsible tourism.”

The festival will celebrate the use of cinematic art as a catalyst for creating awareness on pertinent issues. Several interesting talks by experts and film sessions on environmental, political, social and economic aspects of conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity will be organised during the event. More than 50 conservationists, policy-makers and concerned communities are expected to participate in the deliberations and discourses for five days.

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