The Kaliveli wetland, near the Puducherry-Tamil Nadu border, home to several migratory birds species, is facing threats from a film shoot using bombs. This wetland, approximately 18 km north of Puducherry town, covers 14549.86 hectares and 22 villages depend on this wetland for their livelihood. A seasonal wetland, with a gradient ranging from freshwater to brackish water, it sees the arrival of about one lakh migratory birds every year during this season and is also a stopover for many of them on their way to Point Calimere and Sri Lanka. Studies have shown the presence of more than 170 species of birds both resident and migratory and some rare species.
The lake is one of the largest wetlands in peninsular India and is considered a wetland of both national and international importance by the Indian Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Since the last four days the shooting of a Tamil movie ‘Vadhamalar’ is going on in Kaliveli under producer Natha and director Anandh Babu. As a part of the filming they had been bursting water bombs, generating lot of sound and smoke in the process.
There are cranes and rollers as well used during the shooting along with the blasts, threatening the flora and fauna. This being the migratory season for birds (October to February), there has been the presence of a lot of birds and the sound and smoke would certainly scare the birds away, felt some members of Indian Bird Conservation Network (IBCN). During this season, some students from Pondicherry University, as part of their assignments, surveyed the area and found flocks of ducks (one flock comprising 250-300 birds) like pintails, spot-billed ducks, common teals, gargeneys, shovellers present in the area.
Some species of larger birds like egrets, painted storks, flamingos, pelicans, ibises and other birds like plovers, lapwings, sandpipers, snipes. Rare visitors like grey-headed lapwings and golden plovers were also found.Some PhD and post-graduate students from Pondicherry University associated with IBCN were shocked by the mode of film shooting during their routine visit for site study. They were told to leave by the film crew when they raised objection to the bursting of bombs, stating that they had permission for shooting.
It is a region with rich biodiversity and anything which threatens it should not be permitted, said the IBCN. They maintain that though film shooting generates revenue for the government, it should not take place during the migratory season as it would be disturbing the birds and their migratory processes. It is not known whether the film crew had permission to shoot with explosives or whether the shoot was unauthorized. The District Forest Officer could not be contacted and her office told Express on Saturday, that she had gone out of station and was not reachable.
IBCN members felt that during the migratory season shooting should not be permitted and the ongoing activity should be stopped. Moreover, awareness needs to be created so that it does not happen in the future since it is harming the birds and a good wetland area of Tamil Nadu.