Current Affairs

Niyamgiri You Are Still Alive

Will Niyamgiri, you are still alive inspire Goans?
Niyamgiri, you are still alive is a documentary by Suma Josson that has been prepared over the last three years chronicling the struggle of the tribals from these hills situated in the Eastern Ghats of Orissa, India where the mighty Vedanta group sought to mine bauxite.
The tribals like Dongaria, Kutia, Majhi and Jharania Kondhs who have been living on the Niyamgiri and its foothills since time immemorial since 2003 launched a concerted struggle against the company on various ground including the destruction of two rivers Bansadhara and Nagaballi whose source lies in these hills.
Finally in August this year, the Ministry of Environment and Forests refused environmental clearance to Vedanta to mine the bauxite from these hills, and following that decision the movie was prepared. Goa Chronicle brings you an interview with the director particularly since Goa too faces a lot of problems due to mining.

Why did you think of such a subject for a documentary?
Mining and the resulting ecological disaster is a phenomenon which is happening all over the globe. The MNCs come blast the eco-sensitive areas, displace indigenous groups who have been living there for eons, and leave behind black deserts. I felt that I had to document this process, what was there before and what happens after. Fortunately as of now the project appears to be stalled.

How long did the process of shooting and editing the documentary take?
I have been working on Niyamgiri since 2007 and made a couple of campaign films on this issue. Niyamgiri, you are still alive is a film which I made after the decision from Ministry of Environment and Forests.

What inspired you to take up the cause of the tribe? There is a hint of optimism in your title Niyamgiri, you are still alive. Do you believe the mining juggernaut will stop for good in time?
Well I am hoping that the government keeps it word and Vedanta is asked to leave Niyamgiri so that the adivasis and eco-systems around can co-exist in harmonious ways as it has been happening since time immemorial.

Do you think the message you send across is positive enough to inspire people?
Definitely it is a peoples’ struggle against a huge giant Vedanta. From day one the adivasis have been firm in their decision to protect Niyamgiri and give up their lives for it. Such struggles have been going on all across both in India and other places, but it is also important to note that the government recognized this — the illegal manner in which Vedanta operated and put a stop to it.  

What are your expectations from screening the documentary at IFFI this year?
Any issue such as this, needs to be seen by as many people as possible so that they are aware of a story with a positive outcome. The points raised by the Ministry of Environment and Forests could set a precedent and used both in the court of law and in other platforms.

Goa is plagued with a similar issue of indiscriminate mining in its hinterland, media coverage of which is devoured by glamour oriented reportage coming out from the state. Do you have any hard lessons or suggestions for Goa?
While local struggles are important I feel that it is important to get international groups to raise these issues with the international media. Organizations like Actionaid and Survival International played a big role in bringing Niyamgiri to the limelight. 

Goa, November 26, 2010: The next few days at the 41st International Film Festival of India (IFFI 2010) are all set to make you dance, jive and just sweep you off your feet! With the festivities at IFFI 2010 reaching its crescendo, performances by numerous globally renowned bands are ready to rock Goa starting today. This year, Entertainment Society of Goa lines up an incredible array of talented bands and singers at IFFI 2010, including “Band called Nine”, Bollywood singer Shipa Rao, Green Ragas and many more for some high adrenaline action. The concerts will be held at Kala Acedemy and Ravindra Bhawan from 26th November’2010 to 2nd December’2010.
Green Ragas is a band which plays a unique blend of Irish and Indian style music, and is a favourite of none other than Sir Paul McCartney himself. It was formed by Chinmaya Dunster who has been playing sarod since 1984 and was later joined by Sandeep Srivastav. The aim of their songs is to touch and provoke audiences through music, lyrics and images to preserve our precious Earth.
Band Called Nine is a unique band bringing together established Bollywood artistes who combine the traditional craft of Qissa Goi (storytelling) once widely prevalent in parts of northern India, and the pulsating sounds of contemporary Indian music. Their music and stories mirror of the ethos of modern India – a mix of tradition and modernity. It’s headed by the accomplished journalist, author, Bollywood script-writer and lyricist Neelesh Misra, who has written several hit numbers including Jaadu Hai Nasha Hai (Jism), Kya Mujhe Pyaar Hai (Woh Lamhe), Lamha Lamha (Gangster), and Maine Dil Se Kaha (Rog) and more recently the Anjana Anjani title song and “I am in Love” from Once Upon a Time in Mumbai. The lead vocalist is Bollywood’s most promising singer, Shilpa Rao, voice of the new Bollywood, whose work includes hits like “I Feel Good” from Anjana Anjani, “Mudi Mudi from the film Paa, Khuda Jaane from Bachna Ae Haseenon, Tose Naina from Anwar etc. Talking about the upcoming concerts, Mr. Manoj Srivastava, CEO, Entertainment Society of Goa said, ‘IFFI 2010’s opening night saw performers from across the country representing the best music and dance that India has to offer. Our upcoming concerts will see playback singers, troupes and international artistes performances. With concerts and performances activities along with film screenings our constant endeavor is to lend the festival holistic entertainment from across the world’.
This year IFFI 2010 has seen tremendous appreciation and has been represented by artistes from across the world. IFFI 2010 is all set to rock you! Be there!

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