Basanti, South 24 Parganas

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Basanti
বাসন্তী
Town
Basanti is located in West Bengal
Basanti
Basanti
Location in West Bengal, India
Coordinates: 22°11′21″N 88°40′14″E / 22.1891534°N 88.6705685°E / 22.1891534; 88.6705685Coordinates: 22°11′21″N 88°40′14″E / 22.1891534°N 88.6705685°E / 22.1891534; 88.6705685
Country  India
State West Bengal
District South 24 Parganas
Languages
 • Official BengaliEnglish
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
Sex ratio 955 /
Lok Sabha constituency Jaynagar (SC)
Vidhan Sabha constituency Basanti (SC), Gosaba (SC)
Website s24pgs.gov.in
CD Block

Long ago, when the zamindari system was still in force, the family seat of the Chaudhuris was in Basanti and Masjidbati in the Sundarbans. Remote and beautiful, the Sundarbans, even today are famous for two things — the dense “sundari” or mangrove forests and the king of those forests, the great Royal Bengal Tiger. A magnificent animal, mighty and majestic, he is held in a kind of fearful awe by the locals to whom he is not just “bagh” or tiger, but “Moshai”, Revered Sir.[1]

Nandita Chaudhuri

Basanti is a town with a police station in Canning subdivision of South 24 Parganas district in the Indian state of West Bengal. The backward Basanti area is implementing various development programmes. The environment has been vitiated by occasional political clashes amongst the ruling Left Front partners.

Geography[edit]

Basanti is located at 22°11′21″N 88°40′14″E / 22.1891534°N 88.6705685°E / 22.1891534; 88.6705685. one of the main deltaic islands in the Sundarbans region, bounded by the Matla and Vidyadhari rivers/creeks. Sonakhali, opposite Basanti, is a popular starting point for Sundarbans steamer/launch trips. Sonakhali is 100 km from Kolkata. Basanti Road is linked to Eastern Metropolitan Bypass near Science City in Kolkata. Sundarbans bypass project, costing Rs 2.29 crore has been under implementation since 2002. It will reduce the distance between Kolkata and Basanti by 25 km. The 12-km bypass will connect Dhuri and Jibantala. Sundarbans, being full of creeks and rivers, needs more bridges, especially on the Matla.[2]

Economy[edit]

Agriculture[edit]

The state government has initiated two plans for agricultural improvement. The “amar bon” (my forest) project aims at planting more trees in the area as a preventive measure towards global warming. Over 14,000,000 saplings will be planted in various places through women, children and NGOs. As the area is surrounded by saline waters in the creeks, the “Rainwater harvesting through Land Shaping” project aims at construction of ponds on 1/5 of the agricultural land and rest of the land is spared for agriculture. The target is to construct 50,000 such ponds. [3]

Honey collection[edit]

Around 20,000 kg of honey is collected every year from forests of Sundarbans. Mostly people from the Kultali, Joynagar, Basanti, Gosaba and Canning are honey collectors. The number of honey collectors have dwindled from around 1,500 a few years back to around 700 in 2007. From 1985 through 2004, about 75 honey collectors were killed by tigers in the forests. Now all honey collectors are insured for Rs. 50,000. The forest department has also intensified vigilance during the honey collection period. The range officers and guards are on full alert. No deaths have been reported since 2004.[4]

Power[edit]

West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency (WBREDA) has installed a solar-power village electrification programme at Nafarganj village in the Basanti block. A Rs 250 crore rural electrification project is being implemented on the islands to provide the people of the area with power through non-conventional energy sources, as conventional grid supply is not feasible.[5]

90 per cent of the islands remain in darkness after sunset, although efforts are on to provide power to the islands. The state government had appointed the WBREDA as the nodal agency for its solar power project for the Sundarbans. Part of the project cost under the low cost non-conventional energy project was shared by the central government. There are two schemes under the project. Under the first, a small unit priced at Rs. 14,000 each was provided to domestic consumers who had to pay Rs. 3,000 for it while the rest was equally shared between the centre and the state. For the other, consumers have to pay Rs. 8,500 for a big unit while the central government provides a subsidy of Rs. 10,000 and the state shells out Rs. 5,500.[6]

Health[edit]

Dominique Lapierre's floating hospitals[edit]

Four launches with doctors carrying medicines, sophisticated portable X-ray and echo-cardiograph machines, provided by the French author Dominique Lapierre move along the waterways of the Sundarbans to its furthest corners. Residents of such places as Sandeshkhali, Basanti, Gosaba and Kultali have expressed their gratitude to him for his support when he came in 2004.[7] Since 1981, Lapierre has dedicated half of his royalty earnings from his books to sustain a humanitarian crusade in the slums of Kolkata and the deprived areas of rural Bengal. For his work, Lapierre was made a citizen of honour of Kolkata.[8][9]

Arsenic contamination[edit]

A study of the School of Environmental Studies, most of whose surveyors are Jadavpur University scholars, shows the extent of arsenic contamination in the ground water of South 24-Parganas is shocking. High levels of arsenic in ground water was found in 12 blocks of the district. Water samples collected from tubewells in the affected places contained arsenic above the normal level (10 microgram a litre as specified by the World Health Organisation). The affected blocks include Basanti.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Chaudhuri, Nandita. "now & again: Englishman and the tiger". The Statesman, 14 October 2004. Retrieved 2007-09-22. [dead link]
  2. ^ "CM impetus to roads for Sunderbans". The Statesman, 3 January 2002. Retrieved 2007-09-22. [dead link]
  3. ^ "Agri-boost for Sunderbans". The Statesman, 19 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-22. [dead link]
  4. ^ "Honey come lately". The Statesman, 24 April 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-22. [dead link]
  5. ^ "WBREDA asked to evolve power model for Sunderbans". The Statesman, 14 April 2005. Retrieved 2007-09-22. [dead link]
  6. ^ Ghosh, Kaushik. "Sunderbans gropes in the dark". The Statesman, 7 March 2003. Retrieved 2007-09-22. [dead link]
  7. ^ "Sundarbans gratitude to Lapierre". Calcutta, India: The Telegraph, 30 November 2004. 2004-11-30. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 
  8. ^ "Lapierre comes with Kolkata in pocket". The Statesman, 21 May 2004. Retrieved 2007-09-22. [dead link]
  9. ^ "Writer’s Block". Calcutta, India: The Telegraph, 25 March 2007. 2007-03-25. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 
  10. ^ "High arsenic levels in South". The Statesman, 15 May 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-09-22.