Life in the delta

The largest mangrove forest in the world lies in the Indian subcontinent, the Sunderban delta. About 10,000 sq kms stretched across India and Bangladesh, it houses a huge number of endangered species- one of them being the Royal Bengal Tiger. Sunderban delta was meant for the wild, says Tushar Kanji Lal, a Padma Bhushan awardee and former Principal of Rangabelia school. “It was never fit for human habitation, but unfortunately it was forcefully inhabited.”

With more than 100 islands on the Indian side, it is a major tourist attraction in West Bengal. However, the growth in tourism has not contributed to sustainable development. Most of the villages under the Sunderban region still do not have access to electricity. The primary source of income for the people is paddy cultivation, fishing which goes around throughout the year and honey collection which lasts only for 4 months. This being their primary rota, on a daily basis the people in Sunderban brave different kinds of adversities – starting from illegally getting into the forest for honey and fishing to rising sea-water level, wrecked embankments, human-wildlife conflict, increased salinity in waters, coastal erosion and unpredictable rainfall patterns.

Most of these problems aggravated or rather came to notice soon after high intensity cyclone (Aila) hit the region in 2009. Villagers say, storm intensity is on the rise affecting seasons of cultivations.

This photo montage clicked over the course of two months illustrates the constant struggle of the people on a daily basis.

(This post is curated by Senior Deputy Editor Deepanwita De)