KOCHI: In 1985, V N Gopinatha Pillai interfered in the sand mining issue at the Manimala river and confronted a few local sand miners for the first time. Since then, for the next three decades, he got engrossed in conservations with nature, raising his voice, and bringing environmental exploitations to the limelight.
The green activist, who is based in Kottangal, Pathanamthitta district, has been featured in the documentary ‘Nalpathanchamathe Nadi (A River Unknown). Directed by journalist G Ragesh, the 30-minute film documents the life and the revolutionary activities done by the environmentalist. The film was released on June 27 on Roots, an OTT platform launched by the director Jayaraj.
“Manimala river is an integral part of my upbringing. I have seen the river in all its might. Gradually, I watch its sand bed getting reduced due to sand mining. When I heard that Gopinatha Pillai has been fighting and addressing the issue, I felt the urge to document his life and activism,” says Ragesh. The documentary highlights Pillai’s activism since 1985, as narrated by his friends, associates, and Pillai himself. His legal intervention in issues that concern society is what sets him apart from the rest of the activists. “There are several activists who interfere in local environmental issues and try to find solutions. But Pillai’s interventions are at the administrative level and he prompts the government to change the policies,” asserts Lawyer Harish Vasudevan in the documentary.
His interventions in river protection even led to the formation of the Kerala Protection of River Banks and Regulation of Removal of Sand Act, 2001. Apart from the protection of Manimala river and Ponthanpuzha forest, Pillai has also intervened in various issues including the Aranmula Airport Project, Meenachillar conservation, and Chembanmudi paramada.
The documentary also features the social activist, Pareeth Rawther, Kerala High Court lawyer Abdul Latheef, senior journalist Radhakrishnan Kuttoor, and environmentalist James Kannimala. Director of Photography is Jijo Abraham, Pinto Varkey managed the editing and the sound design was done by Dhanesh.
Watch on YouTube