Filmmaker pledges award money for spreading green message

October 7th, 2008 - 10:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Oct 7 (IANS) Reputed conservationist and filmmaker Shekar Dattatri, winner of the prestigious $8,500 Swedish 2008 Edberg Award, says he will use the money to spread awareness about the environmental dangers India faces.”My life is dedicated to conservation of the environment. Therefore, while the cash component of the Edberg Award will help me in doing more to safeguard our environs, the prestige (associated with the award) will help me spread more awareness,” Dattatri told IANS here Tuesday.

The award has been given in recognition of his services for the conservation of nature and wildlife for over 23 years.

His three-year-long audio-visual campaign against strip mining at the Kudremukh iron ore mines in Karnataka, which had almost destroyed the origins of three interstate rivers - the Thunga, the Bhadra and the Netravati - finally led to the Supreme Court calling a halt to all activity in the area.

“The Supreme Court forbade the public sector unit from continuing its 25-year-old ill-treatment of Mother Nature after seeing my video entitled ‘Mindless Mining’ in an emotional judgement a few years ago. Though Kudremukh (which virtually means the horse’s nose) has not yet regained its pristine natural beauty, its rain forests and grasslands are slowly being reclaimed by nature,” Dattatri pointed out.

A similar campaign to save Olive Ridley turtles in Orissa resulted in the Supreme Court banning the operation of mechanised fishing boats during the breeding season.

According to Dattatri, short films lasting between 10 to 25 minutes are a better input to touch an emotional chord in the minds of decision makers - be they in the government or in the private sector.

“Short films are not magic wands that will make the bad things vanish in a moment. But, they are powerful tools to engage the emotions of the persons concerned and help decision makers to make amends for the collective mistakes of individuals and institutions,” Dattatri added.

A celebrated filmmaker, Dattatri gave up a flourishing career in the mid-1980s to make films he believed in. Though this does not bring him adequate financial returns, he pursues the effort selflessly as he is happy doing his bit for nature, which has been abused by mankind for “too long for comfort”.

Dattatri’s wildlife documentaries have been shown on several prominent TV channels, including National Geographic, Discovery and BBC.

He works in conjunction with several NGOs within India and abroad. He lives in a southern seafront suburb of Chennai.

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