At one point, the island had some 40,000 people living in it. Now the numbers have reduced to just about 3,000.

In pictures Ghoramara island in the Sundarbans is slowly being swallowed by the sea By Tanmoy Bhaduri
Features Climate change Thursday, July 14, 2016 - 14:20

About 150 km south of Kolkata, the capital city of West Bengal, lies an island which, for several years now, is being washed away not in bits, but in swathes.

The Ghoramara islands in the Sundarban Delta complex of the Bay of Bengal has been facing the devastating effects of climate change. With rising sea levels, high tides and floods have been swallowing portions of the island. In the last two decades, the island's size has reduced by several times its original land mass. 

According to a 2015 report in The Indian Express, the island, also referred to as the "sinking island", "was spread over 22,000 bighas" but now has been "reduced to approximately 5,000 bighas". The effect is such that there is apparently a possibility that the island may be wiped off of the map very soon. 

Tanmoy Bhaduri, a Kolkata-based freelance photographer, has been capturing the lives of people on Ghoramara islands as part of his photo-project. 

In his second trip to the island in the monsoons, Tanmoy records how the severe soil erosion has not only been eating away at the island but also severely affecting the lives of its inhabitants. 

"In West Bengal, the Sundarbans is one of the areas that has been most affected by climate change. I wanted to capture how it is affecting the lives of people living in the region," Tanmoy says. 

The journey from Kolkata to Ghoramara is more about the journey than distance- a train ride to Kakdwip, followed by a ride on a trekker and finally a ferry to the islands, an area untouched by development. 

"There's no electricity, no mobile tower, and only one primary and high school each on the island. There are also very limited sources of clean water with just 5-6 tube-wells," he says. 

At one point, the island had some 40,000 people living in it. Now the numbers have reduced to just about 3,000. 

Thousands over the years have been forced to move inwards or leave the region altogether.

"While the primary occupation of the people on the island is fishing," Tanmoy says "a lot of them also have moved to Kerala as migrant labourers."

(All photographs by Tanmoy Bhaduri)

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