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Sunderbans Youth leaving in search of better livelihood

Kolkata, Sat, 05 Nov 2011 ANI

Kolkata, Nov 5 (ANI): Two years after Cyclone Aila, which wrecked havoc in the Sunderban region youth are leaving for cities like Delhi, Bombay, Kolkata, Gujarat and Andaman and Nicobar islands for better employment prospects.


Since the land in Sunderbans area is uncultivable for paddy and pulses the youth are looking for other means of livelihood.


"After Cyclone Aila, there has been no cultivation here. People are not finding work here. Ninety percent of the youth have gone to Delhi, Bombay, Gujarat, Andaman, in search of work. Even 20 percent of the women have left for Kolkata and Delhi. They are working mostly as domestic help. At present, the agriculture situation is very bad," said Panchanan Das, Chairman Forest and Land Committee, Basanti Panchayat Samiti.


Once vegetables and fruits like pumpkin, bitter gourd, beans, bananas and guavas were grown in abundance but the presence of salt water has made the land redundant for such plantations.


Government programmes like the promise of hundred days of work under NREGA or the Social Forestry project 'Banasreejan' have had negligible impact in the area. Women in the area claim that panchayats have not provided any work under the scheme, while the panchayat leaders claim that the villagers did not come for NREGA work due to a delay in payments. Youth have preferred to leave the delta send immediate weekly wages to their families.


"We exist on what our children send us...we have also found no work under the 100 days NREGA scheme" said Kopura Dolai, resident of Harekrishnapur Vilage.


The panchayat leaders have alleged that under NREGA, payment is always delayed by at least a month or two.


The lack of workers has severely hampered the developmental work like construction of embankments, roads and digging of fresh water ponds etc.


NGOs working in the Sunderban area are trying to create about the continuing impact of the cyclone regarding consequences of global warming on the Sunderban's vulnerable eco-system, the need for social forestry, plantation of mangroves, finding alternate means of livelihood and sanitation etc, but the effort is lagging behind in pace as there is hardly any administrative action or support in the matter.


The blame game is on with a vengeance, but the fact remains that many villages have no able-bodied men left, and most of the youth have left for greener pastures. (ANI)


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