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People in Sundarbans forced to buy drinking water, leave farming

Updated on: 10 December,2022 10:02 AM IST  |  Hasnabad
Agencies |

Shikha Mondal from Khapu-kur village buys drinking water from a local treatment plant as tube wells only lift saline water for the same reason

People in Sundarbans forced to buy drinking water, leave farming

A villager points to her submerged farmland, in Sundarbans. File pic


Bibhas Mondal, a farmer of West Bengal’s Hasnabad gram panchayat, stopped agricultural work two years ago as Cyclone Aamphan of 2020 inundated the area in the Sundarban Biosphere Reserve with saline water making land unfit for cultivation.


Shikha Mondal from Khapu-kur village buys drinking water from a local treatment plant as tube wells only lift saline water for the same reason. The salinity of the underground water they get from tube wells is 5 PSU (Practical Salinity Unit) while the ideal should be zero PSU, said marine scientist Prof Abhijit Mitra.



Many people like Bibhas and Shikha who are facing the problems have raised these issues with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee when she visited their village last week. She directed the district authorities to address their problems. Her government also has plans to create a new district, Sundarbans, and the affected area will be included in it.


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The villagers also have to buy 20 litres of water for R10 from the treatment plant, for which a family has to shell out around R1,500 a month. “The amount is high for us... it is not affordable. We want the administration to address this issue,” Sikha Mondal said. Some people are forced to drink saline water. 

As the land has become unfit for agriculture in Hasnabad, Bhowanipur and Barunhat blocks under Basirhat sub-division, many people are now trying their hand at shrimp farming for a living. Villagers said they have informed the matter to the local MLA, but there has been no help.

Mihir Adhikary, a local leader of the ruling TMC, also talked about these problems faced by the people. “We have been requesting the leaders to give us some respite, but there has been no response. The district administration has been doing nothing. Now, we have told Mamata Banerjee, and she has assured us of help,” Bibhas Mondal said.

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