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West Bengal: After Amphan and coronavirus lockdown, residents of Sundarbans struggle for a livelihood by ARITRA BHATTACHARYA June 26,2020   |  Source: Caravan Magazine

“My son and I were home the morning when Amphan arrived—gushing torrents of rain followed by gusts of winds,” Bhaba Shankar Patra, an elderly resident of G-Plot—an island in the Patharpratima block of the Sundarbans—said on 7 June. Bhaba was recounting the events of 20 May, when Cyclone Amphan swept West Bengal and ravaged the deltaic mangrove forest region of Sundarbans. “We were perched atop our hut, trying to save the roof. But we couldn’t withstand the storm’s fury for more than two hours. As our tiles and walls were swept away by the winds, we saw sheets of asbestos flying in the distance, like birds,” he said. The family sought refuge at a neighbour’s pucca house, made of permanent materials. “We lost everything we had,” Bhaba said. “Everything, except what we are wearing,” he added, while gesturing to the clothes—a lungi and a gamcha, a bath towel—he was wearing and the sari that his wife Kajal Patra, who was standing next to him, had draped.

Kajal listed all that they had lost to the cyclone. A crop of ripened paddy on their small farm, on whose seeds they had spent Rs 2,100, and from which they could have earned enough to feed the family for a good three months. Their hut, on whose reconstruction they had spent Rs 60,000 a couple of

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