The Kerala High Court held that the film shooting of ‘Unda’ had caused serious damages to the reserve forest in Kasargode.

Makers of Mammootty-starrer Unda face legal action for causing environmental damage
news Court Thursday, June 27, 2019 - 11:34

The Kerala High Court has ordered the Union government to initiate action against erring officials and producers of the Mammootty-starrer Unda for environmental damage caused during the shooting of the film at Karudukka Reserve Forest in Kasargode.

The High Court’s orders were based on a petition filed by Angels Nair who is General Secretary of Animal Legal Force Integration seeking a thorough investigation into the activities carried out by the Managing Director, Moviee Mill Productions, the Divisional Forest Officer, Kasargode and the Joint Principal Secretary, Forest Thiruvananthapuram. The petitioner had also challenged the permission granted to deposit gravel in the Parthakochi, Karudukka Rserve Forest under Kasargode Range where the film was shot. The petition had alleged that the granting of permission was a gross violation of the forest laws and guidelines causing serious and irreparable threat to the forest and wildlife. It also alleged that a large number of species including millions of micro flora and fauna perished consequent to the dumping of gravel, damaging the eco system.

“From the non-forest activities undertaken in the reserve forest area by depositing gravel and damaging the environment, bio-diversity and the flora and fauna, it is clear that serious damages have been caused to the reserve forest consequent to the dumping of gravel in the forest area and making the road and the area more marshy which has interfered substantially with the natural environment and the bio-diversity in the area. Therefore, it cannot be said that the allegations made by the petitioner against the forest officials and the movie company are not true or correct,” the court observed based on a photographs from the area.

Directing the Centre to carry out a detailed inquiry, the High Court ordered, “The Central government should carry out the necessary inquiry and take action in accordance with law and also rectify the damages without affecting the eco-system and the natural attire of the forest; the repair measures shall be completed at the earliest and at any rate within four months.”

The court, however, rejected the petitioner's plea to cancel the certification of the movie by the Censor Board observing that “it cannot be sustained in view of the fact that permission for the movie shooting was granted by Divisional Forest Officer by charging fees on the basis of the government order of the year 2013.”

The High Court further observed that the film shooting cannot be termed illegal as permission was granted by the Divisional Forest Officer. "It is also clear that permission for transporting gravel was granted and it was accordingly that the movie company has deposited soil on the coup road. Hence the movie shooting as such cannot be said to be illegal, since permission was granted by the DFO, though the permission was misused which is liable to be corrected, censor procedure was completed and the movie was released also. But the forest officials after granting permission were not careful enough to undertake frequent inspections in the area for eliminating unnecessary interference so as to materially affect the eco system,” the order said.

There are ten respondents in the petition including the principal secretary, Forest Department and Secretary of Ministry of Environment and Forest.

Directed by Khalid Rahman, Unda is an action comedy about a team of policemen headed by Maammootty’s character, who are sent to Chhattisgarh for election duty. Released on June 14, the film also stars Shine Tom Chacko, Jacob Gregory, Arjun Ashokan and Omkar Das Manikpuri in supporting roles. Asif Ali, Vinay Forrt, and Sudhi Koppa also made cameo appearances in this film.



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