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Home » My Kolkata » Durga Puja Special » Exhibition at Sagar Island puja highlights climate change risk to Sunderbans

Durga Puja 2023

Exhibition at Sagar Island puja highlights climate change risk to Sunderbans

School students explain environment disasters to minister and other guests

The Plurals News Network | Published 17.10.23, 06:59 PM
Students of Sreedham Gangasagar Swami Kapilananda Vidyabhaban in front of the idol at Sreedham Gangasagar Sarbojonin Durgotsab on Sagar Island. On both sides are posters invoking ‘Jolobayusuromardini’

Students of Sreedham Gangasagar Swami Kapilananda Vidyabhaban in front of the idol at Sreedham Gangasagar Sarbojonin Durgotsab on Sagar Island. On both sides are posters invoking ‘Jolobayusuromardini’

All pictures by Amit Datta

A prayer to Durga to kill ‘jolobayusur’, the climate change demon, and save the earth — this is the message embodied in a unique exhibition on climate change in the Sunderbans being held at a puja pandal on the Sagar Island, one of the most climatically vulnerable regions of the world.

The exhibition was inaugurated by West Bengal Sunderbans affairs minister Bankim Hazra on Mahalaya, October 14. Visitors to the Sreedham Gangasagar Sarbojonin Durgotsab, barely 2km off the Bay of Bengal, can check out the display from October 20, Sashthi.

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Sunderbans affairs minister Bankim Hazra with a brochure and T-shirt spreading awareness against climate change

Sunderbans affairs minister Bankim Hazra with a brochure and T-shirt spreading awareness against climate change

An initiative of non-profit Environment Governed Integrated Organisation (EnGIO), it is supported by Greentech, a waste management organisation working around the country, globally recognised climate platform Climate Action Network South Asia (CANSA) and environmental documentation outfit The Plurals. My Kolkata is the media partner for the unique endeavour.

Nearly 20 students of Sreedham Gangasagar Swami Kapilananda Vidyabhaban school, adjacent to the pandal, have been trained to explain the details of climate change in the Sunderbans, one of the global hotbeds, to visitors.

Rising cyclones and other pressing climate issues highlighted at the pandal on Sagar Island

Rising cyclones and other pressing climate issues highlighted at the pandal on Sagar Island

Call for awareness to counter climate emergency

“There is no denying the climate emergency of the Sunderbans, which is one of the most vulnerable regions globally. However, to fight with this climate demon, we need to be aware of the issues as well and actively decide our course of action. This exhibition, being set up adjacent to a very popular community pandal, will go a long way in taking the discourse to the people,” minister Hazra said while inaugurating the exhibition in the presence of local block development officer Sudipta Mandal as well several representatives of the local administration.

Sanjay Vashist of CANSA underlined the importance of the initiative. “We are committed to highlighting the climate concerns of the Sunderbans on global platforms, including COP28 in Dubai,” he said.

Ramakant Burman of Greentech vouched to continue supporting such crucial environmental endeavours.

“The next generation is our hope, I am particularly impressed by how the young students explained the climate change issues in detail,” Hazra said after Anisha Khatun, a school topper, and her friends spoke about the major features of Sunderbans climate change.

Anisha Khatun, a school student, explains the risks of climate change in the Sunderbans to minister Bankim Hazra

Anisha Khatun, a school student, explains the risks of climate change in the Sunderbans to minister Bankim Hazra

Binay Mandal, headmaster of the school, is also proud of his students. “We are really happy to see our students getting involved in the exhibition, many of whom have been affected during the climate change-induced cyclones recently.”

Let's talk climate change where it hits hardest

The exhibition includes 11 mega display boards covering overall climate change issues, series of cyclones, sea-level rise, livelihood threats, forced migration, future threats while a special display highlighted the climate threat of Sagar island, one of the biggest islands in the country.

“We prepared a special display board to highlight what we should do in the face of the impending crisis of climate change. Maa Durga will only be able to kill jolobayusur, the climate demon, if we can give our awareness and action as weapons to her in this do-or-die fight,” said an expert associated with EnGIO.

Minister Bankim Hazra, local block development officer Sudipta Mandal and others release a special booklet on the Sunderbans at the exhibition

Minister Bankim Hazra, local block development officer Sudipta Mandal and others release a special booklet on the Sunderbans at the exhibition

The nonprofit has been running an environment puja award for the past 16 years. “The aim is to raise awareness and action in and around Kolkata. This year we thought why not talk about climate awareness where it hits hardest; hence we have set up the exhibition at Sagar, in association with a local club. We will extend it throughout the Sunderbans in future,” said Sujata Basu of EnGIO.

Haripada Mandal, the puja organiser, said all efforts would be taken to make the exhibition a success; “We have already set up hoardings about the exhibition” he said.

Santanu Gayen, a national award-winning teacher from Sagar, hoped that the exhibition would travel to other schools in the area.“We will definitely try to replicate it during next Sunderbans day,” he said.

Last updated on 17.10.23, 07:02 PM
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