Even, after a month, the scene in Sundarbans is devastating. Locals are living in shacks without fresh drinking water, clothes to wear, and proper bathrooms. Amphan has severely mutilated livelihood. Brackish water from river estuaries has flown into sweet ponds, farmlands, fisheries making them impotent for further cultivation.
The government is taking lands from the locals for implementation of the dam, without paying them. Beetel plantation is severely affected by a super cyclone. The scarcity of fresh drinking water is a problem, Sundarbans is facing for a long time now.
Powerful water pumps and shallow wells used for drawing groundwater are taking a toll on the only source of safe drinking water on several islands in Sundarbans. Several water tables have run dry, and some of them are producing saline water which can neither be consumed nor be used for farming. The increase in the usage of a shallow pump is resulting in an acute water crisis.
Defunct tubewell is a major problem in Sundarbans. Many tubewell don’t work, and the ones working, stream water in a thin line, taking a longer time than usual to fill up one pitcher. Locals have to walk for several kilometers to collect fresh drinking water. Dozens of tubewell are lying defunct for a long time. While some of them have not been repaired since Aila in 2009, many became useless when Bulbul cyclone hit in November 2019. Many others became non-operational due to poor maintenance and non-maintenance. Due to the presence of sand in tubewell water, locals are forced towards buying packaged drinking water.
The aftermath of Aila resulted in mass migration between 2014-2018. The behavior of the migration was due to economic distress resulting from unsustainable agriculture opportunities. A similar scenario might reoccur, as the locals predict it will take another four to five years until the farmlands become suitable for cultivation.
The excessive gush in prawn farming, powered by the high prices they fetch, is threatening ecological disaster for the Sundarbans, making mangrove swamps fragile. Saltwater from the sea is pumped in for prawn fishing which weakens the dam. It goes onto injuring the roots of mangrove trees further destroying the trees.
Sundarbans is home for the largest mangrove swamp forest in the world and is very important as a wildlife habitat. Mangroves need freshwater to maintain estuarine conditions but due to sea levels rise, the swamps become more saline, pushing the sea species to move further inland which affects their roots. Sadly, deforestation, have reduced the extent and health of the Sundarbans mangroves. Climate Change is expected to render bad storms worse in the future. Experts think the deterioration of mangroves played an awakening role in Amphan’s effect is as bad as they were.