‘Film City’ project proposal in the Nilgiris draws flak from conservationists

The plans mooted by the Nilgiris MP A. Raja to construct a ‘Film City’ in the district have been criticised by conservationists and citizens’ groups, who fear additional pressures from major infrastructure projects will put a huge strain on the district’s fragile and threatened ecology.

Mr. Raja has stated that “Udhagamandalam is an ideal place for developing a film city where many films can be shot indoors and outdoors. A vast tract of land is available and the State government would be helpful in identifying the land,” he said in the Lok Sabha recently. The MP also said that the district was popular for outdoor film shooting and named some famous movies that were shot in different locations across the district.

However, a local conservationist, who requested anonymity, wondered where the large tract of land mentioned by the MP was available. “Concretisation is a huge problem in the district and most of the government lands which have not been built up are under the protection of the Forest Department,” he said.

N. Mohanraj, another conservationist, said that the Nilgiris was already over burdened with infrastructure projects. “The district has a high density of hydro electric projects, while there is also the Radio Astronomy Centre and the Cosmic Ray Laboratory. Its ecology is already facing multiple pressures from existing projects. This proposed film city would only add to these pressures,” he said.

At present, film shooting is allowed in certain areas in the district and permits are issued for shooting in certain locations by the Forest Department. “The present system works well, but they could designate some non-crucial areas such as the Pine Forest in Udhagamandalam for film shooting and ease the process by which permits are issued,” said one activist to The Hindu.

Shobana Chandrashekar, a member of the “Make Ooty Beautiful” (MOB) Project, who has been pushing for the protection of the Nilgiris through sustainable tourism and development, said the district had enough of a tourist footfall to ensure livelihoods for people. “Most film cities are massive projects. We should be pushing for conservation of the spaces that are left, instead of pushing for more high impact infrastructure,” said Ms. Chandrashekar.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 10:12:47 PM |

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