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Law students help families hit by storm

An initiative that started with a slum in Beleghata has now benefited around 3000 families
Sayan Bhattacharya of NALSAR and (right) Ankit Pal of NUJS
Sayan Bhattacharya of NALSAR and (right) Ankit Pal of NUJS
Telegraph picture

Mita Mukherjee   |   EM Bypass   |   Published 19.07.20, 02:00 AM

Two city law school students have provided close to 3,000 families hit by Cyclone Amphan and Covid-19 in Calcutta and North and South 24-Parganas with relief.

Ankit Pal, a fourth-year student of the National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS) and Sayan Bhattacharya, a fifth-year student of the National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR) in Hyderabad founded a volunteer network on May 31 called Stronger Kolkata Initiative.

The initiative started with providing 14 poor families of a slum in Beleghata with ration that included rice, salt, dal, mustard oil, soap, milk, candles, mosquito repellent, drinking water, sanitary napkins, medicines and tarpaulin sheets.

“Within the next one-and-a-half-months we reached out to nearly 900 families living in slums at Mullickbazar, Park Circus, Taratala, Beckbagan and near SSKM Hospital,” Pal said. Most of the beneficiaries had lost their livelihoods because of the cyclone and the pandemic.

After a few days of launching the initiative, the duo set up a small team of around 50 volunteers, mostly students, and decided to extend the relief work beyond Calcutta.

“We gradually reached out to nearly 2,315 families in Bhangor, Sonarpur, Hasnabad, Baduria, Raidighi, Piyali Island and Gangasagar,” Bhattacharya said.

The initiative is still on and the two take the help of NGOs to identify beneficiaries.

Apart from managing the relief work, the two have been attending online classes from their Salt Lake homes. “We manage the logistics …. Our volunteers take the responsibility of managing the relief work in our absence,” Pal said.

The two had initially raised funds through appeals made on social media. “Many senior advocates and benevolent people donated funds. Some arranged for relief materials,” Pal said.

Apart from providing ration, the students have distributed 10,000 masks and 2,000 packets of sanitary napkins from 20 locations in the city.

They arranged menstrual health campaigns and programmes to create awareness among people regarding the importance of masks.

They have distributed education kits to 300 students of Sagar Island.

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