Private Project

The Last Defenders of India

The Indian Himalayan district of Chamoli is an ecologically fragile region known for its meadows of native flowers and wide variety of flora. It is also rich in minerals like magnesite, iron and limestone. A construction boom across the region has fuelled the extraction of these resources, resulting in a massive increase in landslides.

Deepa Devi and Kiran Bhandari are leading a group of women fighting against the construction of a stone crusher plant by a powerful local mafia. For over a year, the women have stopped the construction of the plant near their village, Jabar Kot, using their bodies to prevent the diggers from working. Kapoor Rawat, a grassroots organiser, supports their fight despite the legal cases brought against them by the stone crusher plant company for the loss of income due to their obstruction.

As the threats and intimidation increase, the women remain determined and stay on the frontline to protect their land, forests, water and children's future.

  • Srishti Lakhera
  • Syahirah A. Karim
    Series Producer
  • Aditya Thayi
    Executive Producer
  • Simon Hipkins
    Executive Producer
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Documentary, Environmental
  • Runtime:
    46 minutes 3 seconds
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Srishti Lakhera

Srishti Lakhera is an independent documentary filmmaker, whose decade-long career has seen many accolades. Her debut documentary feature, ‘Ek Tha Gaon’ is being screened in many international festivals currently. She has produced short documentary films for international organisations like UNISDR, government bodies like the forest department of Uttarakhand, national television channel DD, and international television Channel Newsasia. Srishti has been associated with grassroots organisations across India to conduct film programming, production, and facilitation.

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Director Statement

I was deeply moved by the unity and collective effort demonstrated by the women of Jabar Kot village as they stood resolutely against big industrialists to protect their land, forest, and water. It has been a year since these 30 courageous women initiated their peaceful resistance by physically obstructing the construction of a stone crusher plant in their village. Their determination and strength as a cohesive group have allowed them to sustain the movement for such an extended period.

I was fascinated by this group of women who were fighting for their simple demands to continue living in their natural environment, uninterrupted by the greed of development but rather a desire to continue living in harmony with their mountain surroundings and to preserve their dignity.

I have high hopes that this will shed light on the inspiring story of these brave women who have been tirelessly protesting against the construction of the stone crusher plant. Their protest is not just about preserving their quality of life, but also safeguarding the vital elements of their existence - fresh air, water, and forest.

I believe that by sharing this powerful narrative, we can ignite a sense of inspiration and empowerment among the people of Uttarakhand, a state in the Himalayan region of India. These women's struggle reflects the larger fight for the rights of mountain communities and the call for sustainable development in the region.

My aim is to use this story as a catalyst to awaken empathy among the citizens of the state and the country, urging them to question the prevailing system and political culture. I hope that the audience can relate to the characters in the episode and see themselves in a similar situation, realising the significance of standing up for their beliefs and the environment they cherish.