Written by Shreya Tinkhede
There are trees peeping through concrete structures in an old mansion in Dehradun in one frame. Another one offers a glimpse of an old copy of the Constitution of India. Author and photographer Juhi Saklani has portrayed the human-nature relationship through her recent works on display at the Habitat Photosphere in Delhi. There’s also a photograph of her mother sitting under a giant tree, titled Ma under a tree.
The widespread deforestation in Delhi’s colonies — Sarojini Nagar and Netaji Nagar — prompted her to present issues around the redevelopment through photographs. A writer for a travel magazine for over a decade, Delhi-based Saklani has journeyed across India, mindful of the flora and fauna she saw. Comprising Saklani’s 15 photographs, the exhibition also has images of demolished houses and trees overlapping each other.
“I remember an old lady coming to me with tears in her eyes, that she misses the mango tree near her house in Sarojini Nagar, and how she loved making pickles with the fruit,” says 49-year-old Saklani. “The redevelopment of Delhi’s colonies is an example of how the consent of its residents was not taken before cutting the trees,” she adds.
Another photograph titled Shrine Banaras tells the story of a peepal tree in Varanasi, which seems to have become both the deity and the shrine because of its ecological value and religious beliefs. “Human beings are very intelligent in finding alternatives to problems, but the sad part is there is no substitute for a healthy and green environment,” she says.