"Wild Mumbai": After Karnataka, Maharashtra Works On Wildlife Documentary

The Maharashtra government has decided to sanction a wildlife project to showcase the biodiversity of places like Aarey Colony, Sanjay Gandhi National Park and the Sewri Mudflats in its state.

Aarey Colony in Mumbai is an area rich in biodiversity with a leopard population. (Representational)

Mumbai:

After the release of Wild Karnataka last week, a documentary film based on the forests of Karnataka presented by the state forest department, the Maharashtra government has decided to sanction a similar project to showcase the biodiversity of places like Aarey Colony, Sanjay Gandhi National Park and the Sewri Mudflats in its state.

"Hopefully it will bring out the side of Mumbai that citizens haven't seen. I hope it will bring us closer to nature," said Maharashtra environment and tourism minister Aaditya Thackeray, after attending a screening of Wild Karnataka at the Plaza Cinema in Dadar.

"We have seen a certain amount of wildness in our politics but we've just seen a wonderful film and now we are embarking on a project to make a film called Wild Mumbai... The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will produce the Wild Mumbai film," Mr Thackeray added.

The Wild Karnataka film has been directed by Bangalore-based conservationists Amoghavarsha JS and Kalyan Varma, and narrated by English broadcaster and natural historian David Attenborough. The "Wild Mumbai" film is also expected to be directed by Mr Amoghavarsha.

"Wild Mumbai will be very different from Wild Karnataka because Wild Mumbai is a contrasting story where the highest densities of people exist with highest densities of animals. So we want to tell the story in a very different way. It's not going to be pure natural history," Mr Amoghavarsha said.

He said it is a story of co-existence. "It's about how people co-exist with animals in the most populous city of our country. One thing we have learnt with wildlife is that everything is unexpected so you have to be prepared and film quite a bit. We are going to use as many cameramen as we can from Maharashtra and Mumbai itself."

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said the government is trying to give an integral part of Mumbai its rightful place.

"It's almost unbelievable to see what we watched in Wild Karnataka. Your challenge is to make a better film than that for me. I remembered my childhood after watching the film. We've ignored important things and only thought about FSI (Floor Space Index - a measurement used to grant permissions to buildings). We ignored and destroyed our treasures," he added.

He also praised municipal commissioner Praveen Pardeshi for his work in wildlife conservation.

"After we have seen the destruction of these treasures I feel angry. We have ignored the environment even we are dependent on it. We have encroached on the environment and attacked it. Even then the environment takes care of us. I want this film to be made well. Take time but the world should be talking about it once it's made," the chief minister, who is a wildlife photographer himself, said.

The launch of the movie comes after IAS officer Ashwini Bhide, who was at the helm of the Metro III project in Mumbai, was transferred.

Ms Bhide has been accused of presiding over the planning and execution of cutting trees at Aarey Colony for a Metro car shed. The decision to cut trees at Aarey Colony, an area rich in biodiversity with a leopard population, had put Ms Bhide on the warpath with environmentalists and conservationists who held several protests in the city.

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