People learn and retain better through visual media. That's a fact. So what better way to bring attention to topics around the themes of water than by screening movies? That was the thought process behind organising an event on World Water Day with school students in Shimla.
With a strength of 120 students from the Bishop Cotton School and St Thomas' School, India Water Portal aided by WWF-India's Shimla office screened films and facilitated interactions on the issues that the films raised.
‘Renukaji in Delhi’s taps’, a film by Kurush Canteenwala, talked about the possible impacts of the proposed Renuka dam project in Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh. The proposed dam will help transfer water over 300 km from Giri river in Sirmaur to Delhi. The film was chosen not only because it focussed on a topic relevant to Himachal Pradesh but also because it gave a good perspective to the debate on development versus sustainable living.
Students questioned the need to build a dam that would quench Delhi's thirst but at the cost of the livelihood of locals in Sirmaur. They picked up certain facts from the film, including loss of 40 per cent water during distribution and bias towards posh areas , to assert that the national capital can be water surplus if these anomalies are rectified.
Another film, ‘Green Warriors’ by Dr Gaurav Chhabra, focussed on a heritage pond in Chandigarh, which was under threat of being acquired to build a club for IAS officers. Through a non-violent struggle, school students in Chandigarh managed to preserve the pond, which has been a home to a variety of flora and fauna.
Arti Gupta, project coordinator of WWF Shimla, told the students about water harvesting structures in the tourist city. “The demand on the natural resources is rising due to increasing population and tourist inflow. This is why it’s all the important to do our best in conserving water and energy,” she said.
Ravinder Kaul, the teacher incharge of nature club at Bishop Cotton School, talked about rainwater harvesting structures on the campus and how the infrastructure helps them ward off water scarcity even during summer season besides reducing the water bill. Manu Moudgil from India Water Portal gave a short pictorial presentation on the issues related to water and the solutions at hand. General knowledge books related to nature were handed over to the students who gave correct answers to the questions related to water.
WWF Shimla and India Water Portal have decided to continue working together to take the messages around water to the people in cities as well as interior villages of Himachal Pradesh. Film making and comics workshops for children are some of the activities that are likely to be planned for the future.