In Sagar Islands, some 100 km from the city, the battle against the pandemic was fought on both land and water.
The Gangasagar Mela each year draws lakh of pilgrims across India to the tip of the Sagar Island where it is organised. The pandemic outbreak in 2020 had mounted the state government’s anxieties over the mammoth gathering and ultimately the Mela was held virtually.
However, before the next Mela in 2022, which usually takes place in January, the government has decided to vaccinate a large number of the island’s inhabitants. But this wasn’t as easy for Sagar Island as it was for the rest of the South 24 Parganas due to the geographical predicament.
Defeating obstacles, the island has managed to administer the first doses of vaccine to more than one lakh. Bankim Chandra Hazra, Sagar MLA and Sunderban Affairs minister told The Statesman, “More than one lakh people have been vaccinated in Sagar with the first dose while more than 25,000 approximately have received their second till 26 August. As per instructions of chief minister Mamata Banerjee, our goal is to make a Covid-free Sagar island before the next Ganga Sagar Mela.”
He said a special camp was today set up at the Kachuaberia Ghat where all transport workers, shopkeepers, labourers have been vaccinated onboard a vessel. “Many flocked to the vessel to get their doses,” he said, adding that similar arrangements were made to vaccinate people on boats in several Sunderban islands.
Talking about the augmentation of health facilities in the Sundarban belt, Hazra said on 7 September, a special water ambulance service will be flagged off to help ferry patients from Gadkhali to Gosaba.
“Goshaba links Kolkata where patients often need to be ferried for admission in government hospitals. The nominal charge of the ambulance service has to be deposited only with the Block Development Officer.”