Contribute towards their relief and rehabilitation
WEST BENGAL is still struggling to recover from the massive destruction caused by Cyclone Amphan that made landfall on May 20, after first hitting coastal Odisha – a state prone to and primed for managing super storms. Evacuation kept loss of lives to a minimum, but millions were displaced, homes and huts have been razed to the ground, crops and livestock destroyed, roads severely damaged…the list is endless.
This widespread damage to lives and infrastructure has made the path to relief and recovery long and arduous. A cyclone amidst the Coronavirus pandemic has been a double disaster.
Farmers have lost their crops
Crops of rice, betel, brinjal, cauliflower, banana, mango and many other fruits and vegetables worth crores were ready for harvest. The cyclone wiped out hundreds of acres of produce and submerged the fields with saline water making them unfit for cultivation. Many small farmers grow crops on leased lands avail loans for cultivation. Unable to sustain themselves or repay their loans, they are in a state of panic as the cyclone destroyed everything. Farmers from the Sundarbans, particularly South and North 24 Parganas and Hooghly in West Bengal and Bhadrak in Odisha have suffered heavy losses.
India Today tells the story of Abdul Barik, a banana farmer, who spent this Eid – a few days after the storm – collecting the remains of his destroyed plantation. The celebration turned into grief for him and his family as months of hard work was wrecked. Now he is unable to even provide for his family. With no produce and no means to repay his loan, Abdul, like many others, faces an uncertain future.
Craftsmen fear for their survival
Millions are part of West Bengal and Odisha’s rich handloom and crafts industry, the largest source of rural livelihood, second only to agriculture. The weavers and artisans of traditional crafts are already under distress, their difficulties compounded because of COVID-19 and Cyclone Amphan. They were not able to sell anything during the lockdown as local markets and haats were shut. Many were already on the brink of poverty, and after the cyclone, they don’t even have enough money to feed their families.
A weavers’ community in the Burdwan district of worse-hit West Bengal, for instance, witnessed Amphan destroying their mud houses, damaging looms and other weaving tools and causing irrecoverable damage to their yarns. How will they ever get on their feet again.
Sundarbans worst affected
Located 100km from Kolkata, the Sundarbans, a UNESCO world heritage site, comprises a large continuous mangrove forest with a cluster of small low-lying islands. The ecologically fragile region is also home to the endangered Bengal Tiger. For the people of Sundarbans, the fight for survival is a routine affair but Cyclone Amphan has caused absolute devastation for its 4.5 million population.
It brought down nearly all the mud and brick houses, washed away embankments, uprooted innumerable trees, destroyed fisheries and ruined the vegetable crops in the fields. The ponds have been contaminated by the saline tide leaving dead fish, livestock has been lost and flooding of the main road has rendered the island inaccessible.
Residents of the north like Asit Mahato, a fish farmer, have no home and no resources left to earn their living. Rearing fish, an economic mainstay of many in the Sundarbans, has been completely destroyed by the cyclone. Saline water swept into fresh-water ponds killing the fish resulting in losses worth crores. “We have all the lobsters, tiger prawns and bektis gone. We are doomed,” he told the Hindustan Times.
Donate towards their relief and rehabilitation
We urge you to make a donation to our fundraising mission. Help us provide the necessary aid to families who have faced devastating loss due to Cyclone Amphan. With no source of income, they struggle for even basic requirements. We must do all we can to help them get back on their feet. A little help from you can make a big difference to our vulnerable citizens. Please donate here.
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Samar is a Marketing Communications specialist and freelance writer. She has a master’s in marketing and creativity from ESCP Business School. She is an avid traveler and likes to write about technology, travel, wildlife and sustainability.