The Sunderbans are known for its tiger reserves and unique beauty. But what’s also rampant in the area is poverty – no good roads or clean, drinking water, and poor food supplies forcing residents to eat weed grown in the village ponds.
We parked the car a kilometer or so before a bridge that connects to the neighbouring village and walked to it. We walked along brick laden roads as we passed ponds with filthy water and a few dusty shops. As I walked further inside, I saw an old man sitting outside his hut, bare chested, talking to his daughter who was carrying a baby..
Siba Sankar, the founder of Subuj Sangha, was born and brought up in the Sunderbans. Living in a joint family, sharing and giving to people around him comes naturally to him. After his graduation in Zoology from City College in Calcutta, he moved back to his village and started to teach in the nearby school. This was in the early fifties.
The Sunderbans are known to be one of the remotest islands of West Bengal, because of which conditions of underdevelopment are rampant – lack of clean drinking water, no roads, extreme poverty and little to no awareness of education and health. He noticed that these conditions were leading to increased migration to the cities.