Balance between development, nature needed to protect environment: Prakash Baba Amte

Kolkata, Dec 15 (IANS) Ramon Magsaysay awardee and social worker Prakash Baba Amte on Friday termed deforestation as the biggest threat for environment and wildlife in the country and called for a balance between developmental work and nature.

“Deforestation is the biggest threat for the environment and wildlife in this country. The forest cover is fading fast. Unless we learn to differentiate between our need and greed, the forests will get destroyed and wildlife would become extinct,” Amte said on the sidelines of Kolkata International Wildlife and Environment Film Festival (KIWEFF) here.

“Protecting the environment is a very delicate issue for the government as development and environment do not go together. I think there should be sustainable development in the country. There should be a balance between the developmental work and nature,” he said.

Amte, who along with his wife Mandakini Amte, inaugurated the film festival, said more people should be encouraged to come and see these films as they would invoke a sense of love for nature among the masses.

“Such festivals are a good way to invoke love of nature among people. But more and more people should attend these. Especially the youngsters should be motivated to come and watch these films. This would surely leave a positive impression on them,” he said.

The social worker from Maharashtra, who runs an animal orphanage and sanctuary on a 50 acre land in Hemalkasa, said it was important to lead life in a way that did not hamper nature.

“It is important that we put a check to destroying the nature to satisfy our needs in life. Nature itself fulfills our needs. We are living a life in the heart of nature for the last 40 years and we not missing out on much in life,” Amte said.

“We should protect our forests and grow more trees to control the increasing pollution levels. There is so much pollution in certain Indian cities that people cannot even breathe,” he pointed out.

A documentary on Amte’s ‘Animal Arch’, that is home to nearly 300 animals including leopard, bears, hyenas, crocodiles and several snakes, was screened at the beginning of the festival.

The third edition of the festival is set to screen 66 films on wildlife, nature and social concerns – chosen out of 2,300 entries from 116 countries – in six screens in six theatres in the city this year.

The organisers said they were overwhelmed with the number of entries and focused on good storytelling and wonderful visuals.

“We looked for strong narratives and story telling as that is the most appealing part of any film. Also we looked for striking cinematography and visuals Awhile choosing the films. These are the two main aspects of films on nature and wildlife,” said Ashwika Kapur, Executive Director, KIWEFF.

“The screenings are free for everyone. Last year, there were 20,000 spectators in total. We are expecting a bigger turn out in this edition,” she added.

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