Other States

South Bengal severely impacted by COVID-19 and Amphan

Halima Bibi is one of over 1.5 million sharecroppers who have lost their entire produce due to Cyclone Amphan.  

For 31-year-old Halima Bibi, a landless sharecropper, survival over the next six months is dependent on help from neighbours and the government. Two of her financial lifelines have gone dry. The COVID-19 pandemic has snapped the allowance Ms. Halima used to receive from Kerala-based husband Alamin Mondal, while Cyclone Amphan ruined her other income source, the paddy spread over an acre in Charmahatpur, a prosperous agrarian village in Nadia district.

West Bengal is the highest producer of rice in the country with over half its land dedicated to rice cultivation and Ms. Halima is one of over 1.5 million sharecroppers who lost her entire produce.

“The cyclone came when I was about to remove the paddy from the field in [the next] three days,” said the mother of two teenage sons while dumping the moistened crop in front of her damaged house.

Sob dhan-e kall beriye gechey [The grain has come out of the paddy],” she explained. The soggy rabi crop will produce substandard rice. “Most of it will go towards feeding the cow,” she said. The monthly allowance of around ₹5,000 her husband used to dispatch from Kerala stopped coming from early March as the 35-year-old mason went out of work with the arrival of COVID-19.

Out of work

Mr. Mondal said over the phone from Kayamkulam town in Alappuzha, south Kerala, that he is confused whether to return to Nadia or not though many are boarding home-bound trains and buses. “I do not have any income and there is no job in Nadia. [Now] tell me, why should I return?”

But he is aware that his mud house by the Khori river is damaged and the family is without any income. “I am getting some indications from the contractor — with whom I have been working for the last 15 years — that work may resume, which is the only hope left for us,” said Mr. Mondal.

“With COVID-19 and Amphan, the area’s economy is ruined,” said Liakat Ali Jangi, the manager of Dhubulia Krishi Unnayan Samiti, a cooperative society with about 1,000 members. “Most of the farmers are now coming to the society to withdraw deposits from the [cooperative] bank and not to buy fertilizer, pesticides,” he said.

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Printable version | Jun 15, 2021 1:07:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/south-bengal-severely-impacted-by-covid-19-and-amphan/article31690488.ece

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