Shukla's photographic essay of the stark burial ceremonies of a two-year-old tribal child near Jadugoda in Jharkhand state's uranium belt has won the "Picture of the Year Award".
The photo-essay, entitled "Jadugoda: The Nuclear Graveyard" provides a glimpse into the environmental impact of uranium mining on the local villagers in the minefield region.
The award winning entry was unanimously selected by an international jury comprising Pablo Bartholomew, Saurabh Das and Rafeeq Ellias.
Over 8,000 pictures sent by more than 340 photographers competed under six categories for the Media Foundation of India contest.
Shukla (27) will be given the grand prize of Rs.75,000 and other winners will receive Rs.50,000, Rs.30,000 and Rs.20,000 at a ceremony to be held later this year.
"I am totally thrilled. It is good for the cause. More people will get to know about Jadugoda and nuclear radiation. For me, that's more important than the prize," reacted Shukla at the announcement.
Describing it as "a very difficult story to shoot", Shukla said she had to first convince the tribals why she was there before she could click pictures. Then, during her three-week sojourn, she heard about the sudden death of the two-year-old Babua and managed to get the shot, which proved to be a prize-winner.
Earlier, Shukla has explored visual narratives on diverse subjects like problems of e-waste, widows of Vrindavan and Varanasi, Delhi's 70-acre garbage landfill and the life of workers in Mumbai's salt pans, among many other assignments across India.
--IANS (Posted on 06-09-2013)