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Taking a fresh look at water

Last updated: 01 February, 2010

The documentary, which deals with the issues of water management in South India, was interesting as well as thought- provoking

Bittersweet Waters, a 53-minute tri-lingual documentary in French, English and Tamil was screened at the Alliance Francaise recently, as part of the Bonjour India Festival.

Moving the spotlight slightly away from culture and art for the moment, the film dealt with the issues of water management in South India. Made by French film-makers Nathanal Coste and Nicolas Ploumpidis, the well-researched documentary was both interesting and thought-provoking. “Water is one of the most essential elements of our daily existence, whether we live in towns or villages, and it is probably films like these which will highlight the gravity of the situation and push us to implement stronger measures on a war footing,” said Sarah, a social worker who travels to villages in South India and was closely involved in rebuilding homes that were destroyed in the Tsunami.

Testimonies from different stake holders from a whole broad spectrum were used to illustrate theories and provoke debate on this very crucial issue. This documentary actually featured the step by step dynamics of how water management has evolved over the last few decades.

It also showed how access to water brought prosperity but at the same time led to bitter experiences.The film trained the spotlight on two small distinct villages in South India, which are desperately trying to cope with dwindling water resources. Bittersweet Waters branches out into the history, the politics, the society and also the developmental measures undertaken and in a critical light evaluates the policies and decisions that lead to the present state of affairs.

“It gives one a fresh take and a reality check on everything that one learns in theory and textbooks but finds hard to put into practice in the field,” said Aditi, an NGO worker.
The film also delves into the history of the Chola period where one of the first instances of water management in India can be found and moves into the promotion of irrigation in the post-independence days of the Green Revolution.
It also highlighted how the use of chemical fertilisers increased the agricultural yield but made the land fallow and toxic as well as the proliferation of borewells that severely depleted the ground water resources in the country.

“The movie is a sum of human testimonies from rural Tamil Nadu confronted by the problems of water scarcity. The real merit of the film I believe is that the team from the French institute were able to effectively interact with the people, who seemed to be able to express their sensitivities without hesitation or taboos on this important question,” said Thierry Boisseaux, Attach for Science and Technology, Bangalore.
DHNS

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