Photos & Text: Swastik Pal
Gharomara is an island located around 150 km south of Kolkata in the Sundarbans Delta Complex, an ecological knife-edge that has suffered the worst damages of global warming and has become emblematic of the general climatic decline recorded in this region. Locals call Gharomara the “sinking island”, an alarming reference to the gradually rising water levels around it — the Ganges — and its shrinking coastline. There was a time when Gharomara was spread over an area of 20 sq km. Now, however, the sinking island remains for the most part inundated with water and only about 5 sq km of habitable land is left.
Due to this, over 600 local families have been displaced in the last three decades, migrating to nearby villages or bigger cities farther off in search of livelihood. Those without any means or resources to relocate are now the only ones remaining. Around 5,000 residents, most of them farmers, continue their struggle to survive on this island, where acres of arable land has been lost to the river, rendered barren and waste. And it’s now only matter of time before the rest of it is engulfed too by the hungry tide.
This project, originally called The Hungry Tide, is supported by the National Foundation of India’s media fellowship programme for 2015.