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Icchamati Vigyan Kendra: Attempt to Foster Scientific Temper in Sundarbans

The organisation has been credited for helping people deal with natural calamities as well as the pandemic, especially in the far-off areas of the Sundarbans.

Image for representational purpose. Credit: Conservation India

Icchmati Vigyan Kendra, a wing of the Paschimbanga Vigyan Manch, has been playing a pivotal role in the Sundarbans region by promoting scientific temper and environmental awareness. The organisation has been credited for helping people deal with natural calamities as well as the pandemic, especially in the far-off areas such as Taki Hasnabad, Hingalgung, and Sandeshkhali blocks of the Sundarbans.

Owing to the call given by climate activist Greta Thunberg to participate in the ‘Fridays for Future’ movement, about 21 schools in the Taki, Hasnabad and Hingalganj block observed the World Climate Strike.

Icchamati Vigyan Kendra organised the climate strike in the region on behalf of Fridays for Future, according to Partha Mukherjee, a retired school teacher and the president of Icchamati Vigyan Kendra. The students went out of their schools during their lunch break and formed a human chain in the vicinity of their schools – blocking the roads on September 23.

Talking to NewsClick, Pradipta Sarkar, secretary of Icchamati Vigyan Kendra, said that the organisation had operated community kitchens in the distant areas of the Sundarbans – benefitting over 30,000 residents of the inundated areas. He said that the efforts continued for 30 days at a stretch. Members of the Kendra reached out to over 2,000 marginalised families with sarees, mosquito nets, tarpaulin sandals, dry food, baby food, torch lights, sanitary napkins, soaps, masks, medicines, bleaching powder, lime, and carbolic acid, among other provisions. They also organised medical camps and arranged for safe drinking water – sourcing it from four different alternatives.

Icchamati Vigyan Kendra came up with a free book library for the students as their books were lost in the flood following Amphan. The initiative lasted for over a year. Further, on July 25, it distributed kits worth Rs 1050 each, containing essential items, to over 1,500 families that had suffered in the aftermath of Amphan.

Taking help from some NGOs, the organisation has also managed to excavate 70 ponds. These have been filled with fresh water and about 5 kg of fish seeds were distributed to be added to each of the ponds.

In the aftermath of the Yaas cyclone as well, the Kendra organised medical camps in the Taki Hingalgunj of the Hasnabad area.

In a village called Patghora, 18-year-old Hironmoy Mondal was bitten by a snake in 2019. Instead of taking the victim to a hospital, the family members took him to an ojha, expecting him to heal the boy with a miracle. As a result, the 18-year-old succumbed to the bite. Upon receiving this news, members of Icchamati Vigyan Kendra rushed to the area and lodged a police complaint against the ojha. The ojha ultimately had to give an undertaking to the police that he won't treat snake bite victims in the future.

Later that year, when Ashalota Mondal was bitten by a snake in the same village, the family members took her to the local hospital where she survived and so did Rabiul Gaji – who was referred to a government hospital.

In Hasnabad’s Monoharpur, when the incidents of snake bites became frequent, the villagers were reeling under the terror of snakes. Members of Icchamati Vigyan Kendra then rushed to the village with snake catchers and experts to catch the snakes and clear the doubts about the snakes.

A ‘Covid Care Network’ was formed in the region during the pandemic in collaboration with the Liver Foundation, which operated from Taki government school. Many Covid-19 patients received treatment with the help of the Network made up of members of the Icchamati Vigyan Kendra.

The organization also entered a legal battle with the state to stop cutting of trees along the Taki Hasnabad road. Having emerged victorious in the court, this attempt to cut the trees was prohibited by the order of the court.

The Kendra is involved in organising activities such as science fairs, camps to observe solar and lunar eclipses, camps to make herbal colours before Holi, and in observing days such as World Environment Day, Sundarban Day, Hiroshima Nagasaki Day, Mother Language Day, etc.

Icchamati Vigyan Kendra has played an important role in replanting mangroves in the Icchamati Hingalgunj Hasnabad area.  Through different initiatives, it has replanted about 40,000 mangrove saplings  along the banks of the Goureshwar river, in the Rupomari area along the Tiyamari river bed, and in the Hasnabad area.

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