September 2020 \ News \ TRAVEL COLUMN: SUNDARBANS

After a holy bathing festival at Sagar Island ...

By Susan M. Griffith-Jones

A beige line on the horizon comes more into focus, expanding as we approach it. I can now see big machines dotted across a sloping surface and iron rods that have been moulded into many triangular shaped parts.

Standing on the apex of the construction itself, Saral, my guide and companion on this journey through the Sundarbans of Bengal is telling me about this brand new embankment that the Indian Government is currently building. Watching it span some kilometres into the distance, I question why they should be spending vast amounts of money on such a project.

“Simply put,” Saral replies, “to save Mousani from disappearing.” He points to a little boat way out on the ocean, “That’s where the agricultural land of Mousani used to reach up to when I was a child. The ocean is eating her. This is our only chance for survival.” Flowing between Mousani and Sagar Islands, where one stream of her emerges into the Bay of Bengal, the land on either side is prime alluvial soil that naturally lines the large delta mouths of River Ganga.