Video Producer: Tridip K Mandal
Video Editor: Kunal Mehra
Tapasi Mondal still shudders with fear to recount the horrors of the pitch dark night of 20 May when sound of water gushing inside her house jolted her out of sleep.
“We thought that it would be like any other storm. But we were mistaken. The cyclone barrelled through our villages and devoured whatever came in its way. We have never seen or heard anything like that before.Tapasi Mondal, Resident of Tiapara.
The 24-year-old lives in Tiapara village in Hasnabad block-1 covering Sunderbans in West Bengal.
Around 92 people lost their lives while millions became homeless in the most devastating cyclone to hit Bengal in the past century.
Unlike other parts of the state which has started recovering after the cyclone, the condition of Tiapara and neighbouring villages are becoming grim with each passing day. The reason being the 600 ft long embankment that was holding the waters of Dasa river from entering into 10-12 villages, came crushing down in cyclone. As a result, the mud and pucca houses got submerged in the water.
‘Nature Devastated Us, Govt Abandoned us’
More than 20 days after the cyclone, the villagers are fuming over the administrative apathy. Many say it’s worse than the nature’s fury itself.
“The nature devastated us but the administration has abandoned us without offering shelter and food. We have received no help from government nor has anyone come to take stock of the situation. We have been forced to live under open sky. The government claims that it has arranged relief camps for the people affected by storm but nothing has been done in reality.”Tapan Mondal, Resident of Khapukur.
Villagers also tore into the claims of the government of providing them with food and relief material.
“We have received nothing except polythene sheets, puffed rice and jaggery. We are being helped by non-profits and outsiders who are cooking food for the villagers. We have to wade through knee-deep water and brave the dangers of venomous snakes to collect food for us and our family.”Mamta Howli, Resident, Khapukur.
Villagers complained that the salty water has also destroyed their livelihood as majority of them were into shrimp farming.
“Shrimp is a profitable venture but everything got lost when the salty water entered into our fields. I had recently released shrimps worth around Rs 2 lakh in my pond but nothing remains.”Tapan Mondal, Resident of Khapukur.
The rising water level along with high tide is making it difficult for the people to stay at one place.
“We have no alternative but to defecate in the open as everything has gone under water. We are drinking saline water that is causing itching in our bodies. The water level is rising every day. The situation would turn worse unless the embankment is repaired.”Balram Mondal, Resident of Khapukur.