Ignoring ecological concerns, a Telugu television serial crew has erected sets at the Aliyar Dam inside the reserve forest of Anamalai Tiger Reserve near Pollachi violating the provisions of the Indian Forest Act.
This is not the first time environmental concerns have been thrown to the wind and film shooting allowed at the ecologically sensitive site.
According to locals, from Sunday morning onwards more than ten workers were seen busily erecting a wooden set inside the water at the Zero Point of Aliyar Dam which is located 65 kilo meters from the city. The shooting for the Telugu serial in the surroundings of Pollachi is scheduled to go on for a couple of days. The TV set is surrounded by the picturesque Western Ghats.
When contacted, Thiyagarajan who is the Location Manager for the serial said, “Yes I have shown three village houses to the director including Zero Point to shoot serial sequences.”
However, when questioned how he could seek to erect a set inside a protected zone, Thiyagarajan disconnected the call.
Environmentalists pointed out that the location for shooting the serial is a place frequented by wild elephants to quench thirst. Besides, sambar deer, spotted deer and gaur too regularly visit the dam to drink water.
A local environmental NGO representative cautioned that allowing shooting at the area would affect the local environment and disturb the routine of animals. The Forest Department must immediately ask the crew to pack up, he said.
However, Forest Department officials claimed that the spot fell under the jurisdiction of the Public Works Department (PWD). So there was little the Forest Department could do anything about it.
When contacted a senior official of the PWD claimed that he had not given permission to shoot the television serial. He felt that the crew must have obtained permission from higher officials in Chennai.
Last year, the PWD had asked a Tamil film crew, which had arrived at the same site to shoot sequences involving actors Vishal and Sameera Reddy, to dismantle the sets.