The practice of permitting film shooting along waterbodies, closer to forest boundaries, which results in polluting the environment and water, has come under flak with the ongoing film shooting in the Aliyar reservoir.
For the last few days, a film is being shot on sets erected at the zero point in the dam area. Entry of summer vacation tourists and visitors is restricted. The film production unit had, however, obtained permission from the Public Works Department (PWD) officials in Chennai, PWD sources said.
Environmental activists and NGOs pointed out that the unit had erected sets in the water for which they had excavated soil from the catchment area. In addition, the chemicals used on the sets have changed the colour of the water. The polluted water could endanger the lives of the fishes, they added.
The wildlife that used to visit the reservoir for drinking water at dawn and dusk has been disturbed because of the music, bright lighting and presence of large number of film unit personnel The litter left behind every day by the film production unit has resulted in heaps of garbage lying there, tourists say.
The issue cropped up last year, when film shootings were permitted at the Nandangarai check dam near Coimbatore, Thirumurthy and Amaravathy reservoirs. Officials on conditions of anonymity pointed out that whenever permissions are sought, authorities in Chennai concede them. However, neither the applicant states the requirements clearly nor the authorities mention the conditions or finer points in the permission letter.
In certain cases, film units get permission for shooting and they end up violating the same by deviating from the permission conditions by installing sets inside the catchments area resulting in pollution. Earlier, permissions were accorded for film shooting inside forests and now that has been stopped. After which, permissions are given for shooting films closer to forest boundaries and the same is being objected to by environmentalists.
Film shooting is not the bone of contention but the location and conduct of the film units at such places is in dispute, says Osai, a Non-Governmental Organisation involved in conservation and protection of ecology. Osai Vice President M. Ganesan has now written to the Chief Engineer of PWD stating that the present location of film shooting is in the outer ring of the Anamalai Tiger Reserve and the water is meant for consumption of several lakh people and for irrigating several thousand acres. “It is unfortunate that despite repeated reminders, the PWD officials have not chosen to enforce the rules”, it added. In the event of any failure to check such threat to environment, then OSAI has threatened to seek legal remedy seeking directions to the PWD from the High Court.