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വായന

25 October, 2014

Blood and Iron: a tale of environmental destruction and political corruption


Why is it that resources, which are supposed to belong to the people, do not benefit them? Why do they, instead of becoming a blessing, become a curse to them? 

These questions troubled Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, an independent journalist (Picture on the right). He found the answer in a paradox: the richest lands are where the poorest live.

Since then he has been engaged in an effort to educate the public through different media about the resource curse which is afflicting the poor, especially the Adivasis. His investigations have resulted in a few well-documented short films: Hot as Hell, which focuses on Dhanbad, Blood and Iron, which deals with the damage done by extensive illegal mining in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, Coal Curse, which throws light on the coal scam.

Blood and Iron, which was screened in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday as part of the Between the Lines, Beyond the Lines, a film festival organized to celebrate journalistic courage, is a powerful film which shows depredations of  the mining lobby in the mineral-rich Bellary region of Karnataka and adjoining Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh.

                                                     A depressing Bellary scene


 Guha Thakurta made the one-and-a-half-hour film, at considerable risk to himself and even greater risk to persons in Karnataka who cooperated with him, when two of the Reddy brothers were ministers in the Bharatiya Janata Party government led by B.S. Yeddyurappa. After their arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation, he revised it to include that development too.

The documentary traces the evolution of a nexus of corrupt businessmen, corrupt politicians and corrupt officials which facilitated rapacious exploitation of mineral wealth and led to ruination of the lives of the poor. It shows how the Reddy brothers backed Sushma Swaraj in her unsuccessful fight against Sonia Gandhi in Bellary in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections and later helped the BJP to gain power in the state.


Sushma Swaraj blessing the Reddy brothers
 
Thanks to decisive interventions by the Supreme Court, the National Human Rights Commission and Karnataka Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde, the long arm of the law eventually reached up to the Reddy brothers in Karnataka and to Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh. 

The film is at once a waning against destruction of the environment as well as political corruption. With the Narendra Modi government all set to pull out the plugs to permit large-scale exploitation of mineral wealth and some of the persons whose names figure in the documentary high up in the new dispensation, it acquires added contemporary relevance.

(A Note posted in Facebook on October 25, 2014)
 



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