"We were lucky to have relatives with more land on the island, but no one knows if we will still be here after the next monsoon," she says. Family Mondol’s story is just one of many similar in the Bay of Bengal. In 2009 the fierce cyclone Aila smashed into the Sunderbans, killing over 300 people, leaving tens of thousands homeless and ruining farmland with salt water. The tidal waves that followed the cyclone ripped sea defence barriers to pieces in a storm that lasted three days. On Sagar island alone, 25 people were killed.
Walking further North from family Mondol’s temporary residence is a ruin that was once home to another less fortunate family. With no relatives to help out and loan a little money they had no other to go. "They took their few belongings and went to Kolkata. Now nobody knows where or what they live by," says Boddadeb. Maybe they were forced like so many others who have had to flee to join the surging army of foot drawn rickshaw pullers, or to live as beggars on the streets in the already severely overcrowded city.
Earth's warming climate is worsening extreme weather events such as cyclones and storms, and they are becoming more frequent. With unpredictable monsoon seasons the balance of life and ability to survive becomes more marginal. For low-lying areas like Sagar Island sea level rise in combination with the natural redistribution of land from the Delta flow, is already having a major impact. Every day the tide differs with an average of five metres across the Bay of Bengal, more than anywhere else in India. In late July and early September the difference between low and high tide is about 6,9 metres. Not many places on earth are as vulnerable as the densely populated delta between India and Bangladesh.