Environment | VOL. 8, ISSUE 46, January-February 2008

The Climate Change Refugees: Mousuni, Digha and Shankarpur

Young Jalaluddin clambered on to the falling roof, balanced himself on the still firm bamboo pole, first of many that plunged through the clayey soil, braced against the swirling winds, and stretched out his hands to grab the last gourd. Without warning, the soggy walls came crashing down, yielding itself to the relentless surge of the angry oceans. Jalaluddin swung his lithe body to escape unhurt, but the gourd was gone, bobbing in the churning seas. Food had never been a problem in this bountiful little island of Mousuni, deep in Sunderban, yet Jalaluddin fell upon the wet ground and moaned the loss of his gourd - the insignificance of their existence hit him like a bolt. As the salt of his tears fell upon the salty waters, Jalaluddin rose, a black shadow against the grey skies, determined to build again - a home beyond the reach of the dark eddying seas. Jalaluddin is no longer young - a retired school teacher, he lives at the centre of Mousuni, a pretty mud house, a little flower patch, a caked portico at the back, an outhouse toilet and kitchen, plenty of room, it is a appealing gram Bangla picture - only the underlying grim truth is far from happy. Mousuni is an island under siege – just like millions of other islands and coastlines along the...

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