Cyclone Calamity in West Bengal

Normal life in the Sunderbans has been totally paralyzed, it being the worst-hit by the Cyclone Aila. Even thirty days after the Aila devastation in this delta there is no sign of progress in restoring normalcy although good gestures are prevailing among the cadres of few political parties and voluntary groups engaged in relief work. Most parts of the devastated area of this delta had till now have been cut off from the rest of the world. More or less all the embankments have been broken, flooding the homes of the rural poor. The fragile ecology too has been badly affected, resulting in tremendous loss of biodiversity in this delta. Scientists are apprehending fifteen per cent loss of mangrove vegetation. As a consequence the food chain of this delta’s ecosystem will be damaged and the dwellers of Sundarbans will face severe crises to maintain their livelihood both at present and future.

At present lakhs of marooned people are homeless, jobless, shelter-less and they are spending sleepless nights without food, drinking water, medicines and other civic amenities. The Aila’s ravages in 54 islands in the Sundarbans, inhabited by over 40 lakh people, are unprecedented. According to unofficial sources Aila has claimed more than 300 human lives and there is huge loss of cattle and other animals of Sunderbans but the LF Government has yet to give an official estimate. Not only the parts belongs to North & South 24 Parganas, some parts of Bangladesh too are badly affected. The influx of population from Sunderbans to the adjoining semi towns of these districts has already reached its zenith. The lack of pure drinking water, easily available medicines and food has rendered the people vulnerable to the outbreak of enteric diseases. The LF Govt.'s callous and partisan attitude in relief distribution coupled with poor supervision has fuelled people’s anger. Angry over the government’s shoddy relief, people of cyclone-affected areas of Gosaba vented their anger when the Chief Minister visited the block to take stock of relief operations. The CM had to face widespread resentment and anger during his visit, and even the block development officer of Gosaba, Amiyo Bhushan Chakraborty, was manhandled by the affected villagers as soon as the CM left the place. The CM faced further humiliation when he visited Hingalgunge on June 1. The local CPI(M) MLA, Mr. Gopal Gayen was roughed up in a relief camp, where the CM was later bombarded with uncomfortable questions.

The CPI(ML), AICCTU, People's Health, Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA) and other democratic organisations and clubs of North & South 24 Parganas, Kolkata, Howrah & Hooghly have organised relief camps in the worst affected areas of both North & South 24 Parganas. CPI(ML)’s Jadavpur-Dhakuria Area Committee began distributing relief on 3-4 June 2009 in the Sunderbans adjacent to Gosaba and Basanti of South 24 Parganas. On 10 June RYA and AICCTU along with the members of People's Health visited Sahebkhali of Sundarbans near Hasnabad, North 24 Parganas and distributed truckloads of dry food, water, clothes and medicines. A 25-member team with the help of motor boat halted at several points and distributed reliefs and the doctors opened camp to treat the affected villagers. East Kolkata medical camp in collaboration with People's Health have jointly organised medical camps at Hingalgunge, North 24 Parganas from 5-10 June 2009. Six doctors with the help of their attendants treated 3,000 cyclone Aila-affected villagers. They too have distributed milk packets, drinking water pouches and medicines to the affected people of Charalkhali, Sahebkhali, Gobindaghati, Panchapally, Pukuria areas of Hingalgunge.

Kolkata Nagarik Samannay in association with APC Polytechnic's alumni association visited Kumirmari, the worst affected area of Gosaba and beyond to distribute relief. The 18-member team distributed clothes for the children, packets of rice, dal and salt. They have distributed relief among the villagers of Aatapur, Taltala, Bhasarkhali, Lebukhali, Sahebkhali, Madhupur, Roymangal, Khulna-Hatkhola, Gopalerghat, Chimta, Ramapur, Sarkarpara.
The party, as well as mass organisations, student, youth, doctors, will continue with the relief efforts and stand by the people in the face of the terrible calamity.

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