Immediately after the supercyclone Amphan I had visited the village of Uttar Gopalnagar near Patharpratima, Sunderban, West Bengal, India. I have captured through my camera the photographs of one of the villages that faced the fury of Amphan. The destruction caused even in a single village is enough to tell the tragic story of the supercyclone.
The date May 20, 2020 has been one of the most terrifying dates for the residents of West Bengal, Odisha and Bangladesh. This was the day when super-cyclone Amphan tore through eastern India and left remnants of terror and moaning for a long time since. The powerful cyclone made its landfall into West Bengal through the Bakhhali coast at an extremely high speed of 155-165 km/h at 2:30 p.m. IST. The horrifying cyclone buffeted through different regions near the coasts of West Bengal with strong gusty winds and heavy downpour, which caused havoc to nature, lives of people and their property, and the economy of these places alike. The places which were affected the most include the districts of Midnapore, North and South 24 Parganas, Kolkata, Hooghly and Howrah, and most significantly the beautiful Sundarbans of West Bengal.
The Sundarbans have always been a symbol of the beauty of West Bengal and the mesmerizing aesthetic of Nature. However, many things have changed ever since the powerful Amphan made this place a part of its devastating trajectory.
The powerful winds and prolonged heavy rain were strong enough to rip the place of its natural life and cause devastating effects on human life. Many lands which were earlier characterized by tall trees, now lie barren. A part of the ‘Aila Bandh’ got destroyed in the cyclone and caused salty sea-water enter into villages. The mud roads had been destroyed and communication between the villages got disrupted completely. The ponds were already filled with branches and stems of trees and their leaves. Consequently, this caused the degradation of water, damaging aquatic life and killing hundeds of fishes if not thousands.
When I visited the place after the cyclone, the mud-huts were destroyed. At many places only the walls of these huts stood like skeletons. Sights around me were that of dead fishes and dead birds, and people moaning and crying. Alongside the ponds, seawater washed over the cultivated farming lands as well. After conversation with the local people I was informed that fishing and farming, which are the main occupations, would remain suspended for a long time. In one word, the beautiful villages had become ruins overnight.
The first three photographs reflect the beauty of nature in the Sundarbans before the tragic cyclone Amphan and the rest of the photographs show the destruction of nature and human life after the cyclone.
Sudipta Chatterjee, a street, travel and documentary photographer is from West Bengal, India. Sudipta's love for photography reflected at a very tender age. He got his hands on his first camera – ‘Agfa Click III’ which he won as a prize in a recitation competition, when he was around twelve years old. Later, he bought an SLR camera – ‘Minolta 300X’ to fulfill his dreams. However, he had to step aside from his dreams of becoming a photographer for a long time before I would embark on my photography journey again in the year of 2012.
Sudipta's photographs have been selected and published in different Photo competitions in national (India) and international platforms (Turkey, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Albania, Lithuania, Cyprus, Russia, UK), National Geographic Your Shot, 1X.com, 35 Awards, Chiiz Magazine etc and bagged awards both National and international level. He has achieved Awards with Distinction (Artist AFIAP) from Fédération Internationale de l’Art Photographique (France) (in 2019) Recognized by UNESCO and EFIP (Excellence FIP) (in 2019) from Federation of Indian Photography (India).
In his view, a good photographer must be both creative and technically sound, who can capture not only a photograph but also create a story. Sudipta tries to give his effort in narrating stories with his photographs.