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Brazil photographer writes on India’s eco-problems

Brazilian photographer Conceição B Praun may have travelled across the globe in her quest to portray cultures and civilisations,but it was not until she came to India that she found a perfect parallel to her beloved nation.

Written by Nitya Kaushik | Mumbai |
August 10, 2009 3:16:25 am

Brazilian photographer Conceição B Praun may have travelled across the globe in her quest to portray cultures and civilisations,but it was not until she came to India that she found a perfect parallel to her beloved nation.

“Brazil and India are both countries in development. Here things can happen very fast,” she said,adding,“Indians,like Brazilians,are progressive people. They like to learn, they are believers and hard workers.”

But that is not where the parallels ended,Praun soon learnt. Like Brazil,India too was fighting a serious environmental issue,caused due to colossal waste generation. Urban India is estimated to generate 40,000 millions tonnes of solid and 5,000 million cubic metres of liquid waste every year.

Soon,the international photographer found herself on a new mission to create awareness about the eco-whirlwind,which India was caught in. After four months of intensive research,the photographer will release her book The Load— An Insight Into The Chain Which Creates A Link Between Humans,Animals,Earth,Water and Air on Friday. It depicts the environmental degradation through a series of aesthetic black and white photographs of the waste we generate,the dumping grounds,the chaos and the people whose livelihood depends on it.

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“I came to India in February but started my research for the book only in April. I’ve visited some 13 cities but I prefer to keep them anonymous lest there would be comparisons,” Praun said.

“However,I extensively photographed people who deal with the reality of waste disposal day after day. They include sanitary workers,garbage collectors,rag pickers and scrap dealers,” she added.Praun,who has documented the waste problem from north to south,west,east and north-eastern India,said in her quest she also interviewed several officials like engineers,health inspectors and scientists. “Many people deal with the mess that we create from the time they are born till the last moment of their lives,” she explained.

Praun said the last four months were filled with chaos,but there was also a touch of hope that came from people’s support,love and understanding.  

In Mumbai now,the photographer has an unusual view of the city.

“I love Mumbai. I’m impressed that this megapolis is still surrounded by trees,” she exclaimed.

Her fear,however,was whether the garbage problem in the country has gone beyond the point of management.

“India is a big and super-populated country,which makes it difficult to take the huge amount of refuse generated under tide control,” she said,adding,“The matter is compounded by some other countries,which don’t deal with their solid refuse in a fair manner and instead send it in containers to developing countries like India.”

However,Praun’s expedition in India has certainly made her wiser. She has understood that at a micro level,each human being plays a role in saving the environment.

“I have only a single plan,I look at myself in the mirror and understand my responsibility as a human being and a generator of this chaos that we created,” she said.

While Praun knows she has to spread awareness about every man’s responsibility and right,she confessed that she cannot put a finger on the remedy itself. “A problem cannot exist without a creator. Now if you ask me what the remedy is,I would say,I’m also looking for it,” she concluded.

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