The people of Sunderbans live in extreme difficult conditions with almost no employment, no job or business opportunity, almost no encouragement from the govt. their life is really really difficult. Look at the pictures they have risked their life to catch small fishes or crabs to earn their breads just at crack of the dawn. Knowing fully well that there will be some predator waitingm for them but they have mastered the art of living with the enemy. Every year many die in Sunderban , killed by Tiger while collecting Honey or rare herbs in land and in water by crocodile or shark attack. There is virtually no tratment available except for some floating hospital by some NGO. One has to travel to Kolkata for better treatment, most of the time the patient dies as there is delay caused by poor transport system.
Life in Sunderban is very difficult as most of the people are very poor and live in mud house or thachets. Since, there is not much to earn living in a concrete house is distant dream. Disasters like Cyclone ( rampant here), Hurricane leaves them in tatters. The Cyclone Aila came on 25th May was @ 160kmph, left the City of Kolkata and Sunderban in tatters. Though only trees fell in the city of Kolkata as the houses are built with concrete but most of the mud houses and thachets were damaged extensively. The saline water from the rivers( see pictures in next tip) swelled and entered as 20/30 feet high wave in to the villages, just like Tsunami. It damaged the rice fields and their houses.
After 25th May'09 many people had to stay in the open for some time then govt and NGOs swung in to action for help. As help mostly Plastic sheets were given as tarpaulins were not too many available. Many inhabitants moved towards river embankment and built thachets/ mud houses there, covered them with plastic sheets( See pictures, these were taken from the boat we were travelling).
This was the way we distributed rice, milk powder, biscuits, potato & pulses. Our contacts have organised coupons through local volunteers ( Belong to Green Cap NGO). The villagers formed que, they maintained a register. Every person wes given at least 5/6kgs of rice, 2/300 grams of milk poewder, four packets of biscuits, handful of potato etc. This was from one side and the other side we distributed clothes, hurricane lantren, etc from boat.
Rivers of Sunderbans: There are many rivers in Sunderbans namely Matla, Vidyadhari, Hatania Doania, all have direct link with Bay Of Bengal. Naturally all of them are saline water rivers, some are as wide as a mile ( see pictures). The only means of transport is by boat. In this area there is no speed boat but most of the boats are mechanised with agriculture pumpsets which is too noisy and slow but the only means of transportation.
The rivers and the forest is the major source of livelihood of the people, but not without danger. Attack by tigers in the forest ( mostly to honey collector) is common and the rivers are infestated with Estuarine crocodile and small sharks which are called " Kamath" by the locals. But the rivers at the same time provide them fish, prawn seed to earn their livelihood. they cant' live with out them, so is the danger.
Children waiting with bags for relief food, clothes, book and so on. But they are supposed to go to the school.