Posts Tagged ‘More4 News’

Giving Pollution the finger…

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

A couple of days ago, I read an article in Open Magazine about Indian performance artist, Inder Salim cutting off his finger.

“One hot April morning, I chopped off the little finger of my left hand and threw it into the dead river called Yamuna. They call me crazy. But I call it art.”

Well quite.

It seemed quite a brave thing to do to make a point and I’m not going to give him a hard time for being so literal about highlighting the state of Delhi’s famous river.

The Yamuna is one of India’s greatest rivers. Holy to Hindus, The Imperial Gazetteer of India in 1909 mentions the waters of Yamuna distinguishable as “clear blue” as compared to silt-ridden yellow of the Ganges. Unfortunately, the Yamuna that runs through present day Delhi is an open sewer and clinically dead.

I was so intrigued by Delhi’s water situation a couple of years ago and made some work around it that became a film for More4 news. You can see the piece here.

The point was that Delhi’s water wasn’t in this hellish state as the result of appalling poverty – all those pesky poor people washing and cremating themselves in it – rather a complete lack of infrustructure around water management and wholescale pollution by industry. That hasn’t stopped the Delhi authorities evicting thousands of poor Delhi-wallahs that lived on its banks over the last few years.

There are perfectly sensible answers to the state of the Yamuna – Indian answers too. Brilliantly articulated by Sunita Narain, Director for the Centre for Science and Environment, she says: ‘A city will be more efficient if it collects water locally, supplies it locally and disposes waste locally’. There’s an excellent piece by her here.

Anyway, as Delhi looks forward to the 2010 Commonwealth Games, I’m hoping that someone will finally listen to Narain and the other Indian environmentalists, too numerous to mention, whose message about water, the city and sustainability has yet to seep into the murky waters of government. But I’m sure they will be able to¬† smell it…

India - Delhi - A scavenger looks for discarded waste to sell on a home made raft of rags in the Yamuna River by the Kudsia Ghat in Delhi. The river is so polluted it can no longer support life yet a community live and work on it's banks. This boy uses a powerful magnet to dredge for coins and other metals which he can sell.

India - Delhi - A scavenger looks for discarded waste to sell on a home made raft of rags in the Yamuna River by the Kudsia Ghat in Delhi. The river is so polluted it can no longer support life yet a community live and work on it's banks. This boy uses a powerful magnet to dredge for coins and other metals which he can sell.

India - Delhi - A man made homeless by slum clearance in a shack on the middle bank of the Yamuna River in Delhi by the Kudsia Ghat. An entire settlement was destroyed by the Municipal authorities in December 2006 to clear the bank of people that made a living from scavaging on the river which is so polluted it can no longer support life

India - Delhi - A man made homeless by slum clearance in a shack on the middle bank of the Yamuna River in Delhi by the Kudsia Ghat. An entire settlement was destroyed by the Municipal authorities in December 2006 to clear the bank of people that made a living from scavaging on the river which is so polluted it can no longer support life

India - Delhi - A religious icon half submerged on the banks of the Yamuna River in Delhi by the Kudsia Ghat.

India - Delhi - A religious icon half submerged on the banks of the Yamuna River in Delhi by the Kudsia Ghat.

India - Delhi - Rubbish on the banks of the Yamuna River by the Kudsia Ghat in Delhi

India - Delhi - Rubbish on the banks of the Yamuna River by the Kudsia Ghat in Delhi

India - Delhi - A sewer pipe flowing straight into the Yamuna by the Kudsia Ghat, New Delhi, India

India - Delhi - A sewer pipe flowing straight into the Yamuna by the Kudsia Ghat, New Delhi, India

India - Delhi - An old man sits by a temple at the Nigambodh Ghat on the banks of the River Yamuna in New Delhi India

India - Delhi - An old man sits by a temple at the Nigambodh Ghat on the banks of the River Yamuna in New Delhi India

India - Delhi - A man cultivates land by the Yamuna River in Delhi by the Kudsia Ghat.

India - Delhi - A man cultivates land by the Yamuna River in Delhi by the Kudsia Ghat.

India - Delhi - Methane bubbles through the water of the filthy Yamuna River, New Delhi. The river is so polluted that it can no longer support life, however a community still live and work on it's banks.

India - Delhi - Methane bubbles through the water of the filthy Yamuna River, New Delhi. The river is so polluted that it can no longer support life, however a community still live and work on it's banks.

India - Delhi - A group of men come to perform a ritual of casting ashes into the Yamuna River, after a cremation of a family member. Nigambodh Ghat, New Delhi, India

India - Delhi - A group of men come to perform a ritual of casting ashes into the Yamuna River, after a cremation of a family member. Nigambodh Ghat, New Delhi, India

India - Delhi - A man ritually bathes in the Yamuna River at dawn

India - Delhi - A man ritually bathes in the Yamuna River at dawn

The green, green grass of… Delhi

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

I’ve been associated with Delhi in one way and another almost fourteen years. I’m sometimes based there for months on end and, although it is perhaps one of the most frustrating and brutal cities I can think of, I find endless fascination with it. Like London, Delhi is a palimpsest of perhaps nine, perhaps more cities built, destroyed and rebuilt. It’s usually recorded, with some notable exceptions (and again) as unknowable and unloveable. Choked with people and displaying more violence than India would like to admit, journalists tend to concentrate on its chaos poverty and pollution. I’ve done those pieces myself, most recently a film for More4 News about Water in the city that you can see here. But Delhi is certainly more than that. During that film I was working in Kusumpur Pahari, a thirty year old slum or jhuggi cluster. The slum is entirely illegal but is home to thousands of people. Some have rather nice houses and of course some have tried to beautify them as best they can. Many have little flat roofs where they have gardens made of pot plants. It struck me that this didn’t really fit with the poverty stricken Dickensian idea that we in the West have of helpless slum-dwellers and I started to photograph them. That led me onto an as yet unfinished body of work about imaging Delhi in a different way. I wanted to look at Delhi’s relationship with Gardens and space and so for the last couple of years have been trying to photograph not only the acres and acres of green space in the city but crucially in such a crowded conservative place, people’s relationship to it. A couple of weeks ago I was approached by Fabiano Busdraghi who publishes online the small but beautifully formed Camera Obscura magazine/blog. He asked me if I’d write something and I immediately thought of this project. You can see the piece, The Gardens of Delhi – Public Spaces, Private Lives, here. I hope that you enjoy it.

The text on the Camera Obscura site is pretty explanatory about the project so I won’t bang on about it here. Instead, here are some more images that I like from it.

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India - New Delhi - Boys play cricket in the park at India Gate.

India - New Delhi - An early morning yoga class in Lodi Gardens in front of the Bara Gumbad Tomb

India - New Delhi - An early morning yoga class in Lodi Gardens in front of the Bara Gumbad Tomb

India - New Delhi - A 'phool wallah' (or flower seller) delivering flowers on tricycle, Mehrauli

India - New Delhi - A 'phool wallah' (or flower seller) delivering flowers on tricycle, Mehrauli

India - New Delhi - A guard in a judging tent at a particularly Raj style event, The Delhi Flower show

India - New Delhi - A guard in a judging tent at a particularly Raj style event, The Delhi Flower show

India - New Delhi - The roots of a tree in the grounds of Humayan's Tomb in New Delhi, India. The tomb itself built in 1570, is of particular cultural significance as it was the first garden tomb on the Indian subcontinent. It inspired several major architectural innovations, culminating in the construction of the Taj Mahal.

India - New Delhi - The roots of a tree in the grounds of Humayan's Tomb in New Delhi, India. The tomb itself built in 1570, is of particular cultural significance as it was the first garden tomb on the Indian subcontinent. It inspired several major architectural innovations, culminating in the construction of the Taj Mahal.

India - New Delhi - A tear in the plastic of a greenhouse in the Rose Garden that is behind Safdardjung's Tomb

India - New Delhi - A tear in the plastic of a greenhouse in the Rose Garden that is behind Safdardjung's Tomb