“Today is full moon. The water level of the river will increase gradually. It will be dangerous for us. Already our house is devastated. I’m unable to cook here. Don’t know what we’ll do” 34 years Swapna Das from Minakha Block was worried about feeding her family.
Two weeks gone by since Amphan had hit them hard but still they are fighting. Land erosion near the river shore, destroyed the dam in many places. A large number of villages are under water now. According to locals, although lot of people have taken initiative to mend the damage of the dam but it is really hard to do this within a short time. Swapna told me that the spring tide has worsened the condition by significantly increasing the water level.
The super cyclone Amphan had hit West Bengal hard in last month with the speed of 155-165 kmph, gusting to 185 kmph across Sundarban. 50 years old Shankar Das from Patharpratima G-Plot told “We have witnessed several disasters. Even the cyclone Aila and Bulbul were very dangerous, but this specific storm was something else. It was much more devastating”. He also added that the lockdown due to COVID – 19 have caused financial issues which have made the condition hard to handle in this bleak hour. Sundarban along with the other part of two parganas are severely damaged. “Amphan has changed our lives probably forever. It will take long time to bring back normalcy” said by Rakibul Hassan, a very young guy from Sonakhali.
Due to land erosion along the river shore, many villages of 24 parganas are already flooded. The severely affected places include Rangabelia from Gosaba, Mohanpur – Harinhula (Under Minakha block), Tiyamari – Khalisakhali ( Hasnabad Area) etc. More than 40 villages are flooded. In this situation, spring tide has added salt to injury to the victims.
Arjun Das and Bulbul Das live in Bachhra area of North 24 parganas. They informed that a large part of their village is under water. “Maximum people from our locality have taken shelter in the local school building. Our house is completely under water. We have somehow managed to make a small hut beside our house to take shelter” said Arjun. He also added that he has lost his job due to this Corona outbreak. He became involved in fishery and poultry business in this lockdown period but all were lost in flood. His wife Bulbul is a rural health worker. She stated that, even if Sundarban comes back to normal condition when the water level declines, people will be affected by different diseases. She has already started to supply essential medicines to locals. “But nobody knows how the issue with the food supply will be mended. We got some ration from different aids but that’s not sufficient” said Bulbul.
“Can you see the yellow leaves?” Shyamapada Mridha (65 years) from Rangabelia Village informed that Amphan hit with a huge amount of saline water that destroyed the tree leaves. Huge amount of Leaves in Sundarban area was dried for this saline weather. “It has destroyed our land completely, It made the soil saline. Now it’ll take 3-5 years to recover” Shyamapada Said.
“ It has become hard for us to lead a life without a roof over our head” said Ibrahim from Bhangankhali (Basanti). “We are lucky that our area isn’t flooded but we’re not in a safe zone” Ibrahim expressed his concerns saying that regular thunderstorms in South Bengal are worrying them. They don’t have sufficient money to fix their houses which was completely devastated on that fateful day. “Amphan had damaged our roof. My father is unable to manage to get asbestos. Recently, rainfall has damaged my books” a 15 years girl Aamina from that village informed that this situation has significantly disturbed their studies. Alongside the scarcity of food and water and absence of a safe shelter an unknown fear has succumbed their minds.
Subhajit Naskar is a freelance photographer and visual artist. He loves to capture every little emotion through his lens. The ever flowing stream of human emotions have always moved him from inside. For him, raw emotions are much alluring than any other power or construct. He believes that every frame is not just a painting; it always conveys a story; a story of emotions.
He completed his graduation from Department of Pharmaceutical Technology, Jadavpur University, India and then he tried to build his career in Pharmaceutical Corporate Sector. Soon he realised that it was not his cup of tea and from the year 2016 he stepped into the world of photography. For him photography is not only a hobby or passion, it’s a part of politics. It’s a mirror of human life and their emotions.
He had taken photography education from the photography initiative called Click Start From Kalighat, under the mentorship of Mr. Joydeep Mukherjee. He was a finalist in Lensculture Street Photography Awards 2018. He was also awarded in Polyphony International Photo Festival organised by Vidyamandira ( Belur Ramkrishna Mission). His works were recognised in B&W Spider Awards, International Colour Awards & Montage organised by JUPC. He participated in several national & international photography exhibitions. Right now he is working as a professional photojournalist in several regional & national newspapers, web portals and photography / news agencies.