Documentary Watch | "Aravalli Bachao, A Citizen's Movement"
The film captures the citizen-led Aravalli Bachao Andolan as it protests the policies that impact the range.
On 31 August, braving the pouring rain and foul smell from the mountain of garbage in the middle of the Aravalli forest in India’s National Capital Region, nearly 200 residents gathered on one of NCR's biggest landfills to protest against the expansion of a proposed Waste to Energy (WTE) plant.
These citizens were a part of the Aravalli Bachao Andolan, a citizen-led movement that has been protesting to save the Aravallis, one of the world's oldest mountain ranges. This was just one such recent protest.
Capturing their struggle is a first in a documentary series, Aravalli Bachao: A Citizen's Movement, directed by Chandramouli Basu, an award-winning film director, and produced by Roundglass Sustain.
Year 2019: The Beginning of These Protests
Citizens who are a part of the movement believe if the "Aravallis go, we go." These citizens have taken it upon themselves to protest against projects and policies that adversely impact the ecosystem around the mountain range.
This range runs over 692 kilometers from Gujarat and Rajasthan to Haryana and Delhi. The forests falling in Haryana, spanning over 40,000 hectares, have seen the most degradation. These serve as a massive carbon sink for Delhi and NCR and are also a part of a wildlife corridor that is rich in flora and fauna.
The citizens say that the Aravallis are under threat and this is the absolute last opportunity to save the mountain range and its ecosystem, 25% of which has already been wiped out by mining activities in the late sixties. Around 50,000 acres of the Aravallis are not even classified as forests, making land diversion for non-forest purposes easy.
The movement began in 2019 with a series of protests outside the metro stations in Gurugram, against a bill to amend the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA). These amendments would have made it even easier to degrade the Aravallis.
The bill was passed despite protests. But the protests continued. The movement reached out to more people and steadily gathered speed.
Biggest Threat- Illegal Mining, Waste Dump and Real Estate Boom
Illegal mining continues in the Aravallis against Supreme Court orders and has wiped out 31 hills in Haryana so far. Faridabad and Haryana's waste has been dumped in a 250 ft mining pit for years. The landfill is now a huge mountain of waste and is responsible for polluting ground water.
This is where the government wants to set-up the new WTE plant that the citizens are protesting against. "On paper that sounds like a really good idea because it will take this mountain of trash, get rid of it by burning and produce energy in return," says Gaurav Sarup, a sustainability professional who is a part of the movement, "but for this to happen the waste should be high calorific which is not the case with the waste in this landfill. When the waste from this landfill will go into the WTE plant it will emit toxic smoke."
Real estate boom is being perceived as the biggest threat to the Aravallis. Trees are felled and land is occupied for construction, illegally.
The film is available on RoundGlass Sustain website here.
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