Sunderbans islanders are caught between a shameless North and a callous South
THE district administration in southern West Bengal got the warning for Aila, the cyclone to hit Sagar Island, about 20 hours in advance (see @110 km/hr). But it was Sunday, not the day when local administrators are expected to roll up the trousers and jump into their boats. Leftists were known for flawless public mobilization at the grassroots. Undoubtedly, they have lost their touch; too many years of powermongering has made them insensitive and lazy.
The state administration too does not have anything to offer; relief is for pilferage. It seems Bengal's ministers and officials learnt only this month relief and rescue operation was difficult here. The hardworking government officials may be condoned for their Sunday siesta, but not the state for ignoring the Sunderban delta's vulnerability time and again.
Villagers in the low lying islands, literally hiding behind mud embankments face twin threats. The ever increasing intensity of cyclones power sea waves so furiously, they wash away the mud defence. On the other hand, the rising sea accelarates erosion on the island banks. Uptill now, the state has neither managed the continuous migration that happens every year due to loss of land, nor drawn up logistics for disasters like Aila. The state is in complete denial of the impending disaster in the delta. It is not surprising remote islanders did not receive food or water even 10 days after the cyclone.
While the little southern corner of the Left's empire is being lost to climate change induced disasters, leftists end up only shadow boxing with yankee imperialism. True, Aila and similar disasters are created by rich countries, but the Left has no clue how to combat it. They have so far made no meaningful representation about the delta and its vulnerability to the national government other than asking for more money. No wonder Himalayan glaciers hog the climate limelight in India.
The national government, too, has not made any major representation about the Sunderbans in global fora. The Indian climate bureaucracy works overtime hatching plans to earn money out of the carbon market, as it is lobbied by the industry. Who has time for godforsaken islanders who contribute nothing to national growth? But there is an irony. Indian climate negotiators canvassing India's low carbon footprint in international conferences do actually hide behind these poor villagers. They contribute nothing to climate change, but have to brave the storm and the cyclone.
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