Cloud of uncertainty hangs over cyclone-hit island of Mousuni in West Bengal

By Amitava Roy

Mousuni (WB), May 30 (PTI) Thousands of residents of the island of Bengal Mousuni, who depend on agriculture and tourism for a living, look to an uncertain future, with Cyclone ‘Yaas’ bearing a new blow to the local population who had already been grappling with the COVID-19 crisis.

South 24 Parganas District Administration has given assurances that help will reach them soon, but villagers fear it may take a long time for them to get back on their feet.

Sunderban Affairs Minister Bankim Hazra, who visited the island with senior police and administration officials during the day, said cooked food, clean water and Medicines were distributed to the affected villagers and that help would eventually reach everyone.

A community kitchen that can accommodate up to 1,000 people was inaugurated on the occasion.

Vast expanses of agricultural land and fish farms on this low island – at the confluence of the Bay of Bengal and the Hooghly River – have passed under the saline water that gushed out Wednesday morning, under the name of “ Yaas ”, accompanied by heavy rain, made landfall.

Residents of the southern part of the picturesque island, which boasts of pristine beaches fringed by coconut palms, had thrived on its flourishing tourist activity until 2020, when the pandemic and Cyclone Amphan struck one after the other. other – leaving the place in tatters.

The calamity of last week has made their situation worse, as many houses are still submerged and local villagers are desperate for government assistance.

Tapan Mondal, owner of the “Sonar Tori” seaside resort in Balliara village, said: “The situation is bad … The pandemic has hit the tourism sector hard and this cyclone has also left the region in ruins.

“Unless the government gives its aid, the tourism sector, which helps many people here, will not be able to get back into shape anytime soon.”

Subodh Das, who makes a living from fish farming, said that the saline water has killed fish in his two ponds, where he grows local freshwater varieties like “rohu”, “katla” and “tyangra” .

“The future is uncertain … I am breathless trying to find ways to make ends meet, having lost my regular income,” he lamented.

Balliara, home to around 3,000 residents, and other hamlets on the island were ravaged by the disaster, with several forced to leave their flooded homes.

“Some houses were reduced to rubble and people lost everything – from valuables to necessary documents such as passbooks, Aadhaar cards and school certificates,” he said.

Alam Sheikh, who owns a small agricultural plot on the island, said he will not be able to cultivate anything there for the next ten years because the topsoil has been washed away.

“The saline water flooding the land may recede in a day or two, but the plot will not be arable in a long time,” said Sheikh, who has seven mouths to feed at the home, including children and an elderly mother.

Many villagers, whose houses are in ruins, have settled in the cyclone shelter camps set up in the local school building, while some have taken refuge in nearby seaside resorts.

Mondal said some stations, including his own, welcomed the villagers affected by the cyclone.

He also insisted that a 2.5 km long embankment should be built to prevent water from entering the villages of Balliara and its surroundings, located in the southern part of the island facing the sea. .

“A 500-meter-long embankment was erected after Amphan, but this proved too ineffective to prevent seawater from gushing out, as was evident during Yaas,” added Mondal, who is also a resident local. PTI AMR RMS RMS

Warning :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: PTI

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