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Tracking change

Environmental filmmaker Vijay Bedi on his film “Melting Paradise”, and the urgent need to handle climate change



GREENING THE EARTH Vijay Bedi

All over the globe, people came together on Saturday to celebrate World Environment Day, which seeks to promote greater awareness about environmental issues and the effects of climate change.

In Chennai, filmmakers, young environmentalists, and others gathered at the British Council for a special preview of films from the winners of this year's UK Environment Film Fellowships.

The filmmakers were asked to focus on the theme ‘Climate Challenges — adapting cities to mitigate climate change and conserving water resources'.

The five films were screened simultaneously in eight cities across India, before being broadcast on National Geographic India to a television audience of millions.

Attending the screening was Vijay Bedi, whose film “Melting Paradise” was being shown at the premiere. Vijay is one of India's foremost wildlife and environmental filmmakers.

Together with Ajay, his twin brother and creative partner, he has won three green Oscars and been nominated for an Emmy.

Vijay talks to MetroPlus before the screening, about his film, inspiration, and gives his views on climate change.

Why did you decide to make a film about Kashmir?

Glaciers are the first indicator of climate change, and there are 33,000 of them in Jammu and Kashmir. The Valley's largest glacier, the Kolahoi Glacier, is the main water source for the region, but it is melting very fast. It has receded by 18 km in the last 100 years. As a result, crops in Kashmir are now being affected.

So you wanted to show how climate change is affecting the lives of people, right now, in Kashmir?

Exactly. Climate change is not about today or tomorrow; these changes are visible now, and have been happening progressively over the last few years. Climate change is affecting entire communities' livelihoods. If there is not enough snow on the glacier, people cannot produce enough crops.

What other problems do you think will stem from climate change in Kashmir?

The tourism industry, which Kashmir is heavily reliant upon, will be badly hit.

What inspired you to become an environmental filmmaker?

I suppose it's in my blood. My father was the first Asian to win a ‘green Oscar'. He worked with his brother, just as I do now with my twin brother Ajay. Both of us are trying to follow in his footsteps.

What was your primary aim in making this film?

To make a film that explored the beauty of Kashmir, but which also educated people about what is happening there. We acknowledge that there is a huge problem with the melting of the glaciers, but there is also a solution. We need to teach local people about growing different crops to suit the changing environment, and people in cities to take steps, however small, to reduce their energy and water consumption.

What do you see happening in 20 years, if the current changes continue?

As well as the loss of livelihood and the damage to the tourism industry that will occur, there is a larger issue that hangs over the water crisis, not just in Kashmir, but also across the world. In future, wars will be fought over water.

What do you feel about the steps the Indian Government is taking to combat climate change?

I think the key is trying to get individuals involved, so we don't have to always rely on governments and legislation to make a difference. Having said that, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has been very proactive in supporting environment-friendly policies.

For more information on the UK Environment Film Fellowships programme, visit http://www.britishcouncil.org/India-projects-lcf-ukeff.htm.

HUGO WILLIAMS

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