Cyclone Amphan’s destruction in the Sundarbans, and Destiny Foundation’s Relief Work


Photo credit: Photo by Sanjoy Mondal.

Seven members of the Destiny team undertook a long journey by ground transportation and then by boat, from Kolkata to the most distant part of Sunderbans- the Island of Kumirmari in Gosaba Tehsil of South Twenty Four Parganas district in West Bengal. The total geographical area of the village is more than 2000 hectares with a total population of 17,451 people. This large population has been uprooted and dispersed by the cyclone in this area.

The Destiny team went to a village called Bagna Forest and provided relief materials to 100 families. Furthermore, around 1.5 hours from Bagna Forest, they also reached Mitra Bari village to extend help to another 100 families. Destiny was one of the first teams who visited them with relief supplies 20 days after the cyclone. The team received an overwhelming response from the villagers who worshipped the boat in traditional Bengali style. The team also tried getting to Adivasi village, but due to flood water, only 20 packets could reach the village. In this relief drive, food grains (5 kg rice and 1kg pulses), some spices, salt, cooking oil, Soyabean chunk, vegetables, biscuits, LED flashlights, matchboxes and sanitizing materials (masks, hand sanitizers, soaps) were distributed to families. All precautionary measures were taken, keeping in mind the adverse situation of Covid-19 pandemic. Along with the boat, all packets were sanitized too.

The team reported that the village was in bad shape with hundreds of thousands of people evacuated to relief camps. Their homes and livelihoods have been devastated by the storm. Inflow of saline sea water into agricultural lands and freshwater sources due to the complete collapse of river dam created havoc for common people there. Villagers complained of complete power cut. Government supplies and ration could not reach these areas due to the norms and guidelines of Covid-19 as boats being the only source of transportation also came to a standstill, thus leaving people more vulnerable.

Erratic weather conditions due to Amphan, exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis and lockdown have severely impacted living conditions in the Sundarbans. In these difficult circumstances, Destiny Foundation was able to provide some assistance and relief to people rendered homeless and who were struggling for access to basic requirements of food and shelter.