"The government pay for this two kilometre wall," says one of the people in charge, Ranjat Gayen. Despite long days and back breaking work the atmosphere among the workers is positive. Different teams are constantly busy. Moving concrete blocks, sandbags and rocks with nothing but hands. "It will take more than one year to complete it and we are going to have to work during the monsoon too," adds Ranjat, "we are all praying we don't have another Aila."
Gawking at the sheer amount of manual labour involved, our interpreter Sk Abidullah Mohammad recounts the day of cyclone Aila. "People were extremely afraid, many were injured and 25 died on this island alone. I hope it will never happen again I do not wish to see such suffering." Hundreds of people were killed and more than 22,000 homes were ravaged when cyclone Aila struck the Bay of Bengal in May 2009.
We walk some hundred metres along the shore from the wall construction site and meet family Dakka, who welcome us into their home. "During my childhood everything was pollution free and sufficient. Now it is different," says Sahander Dakka, 67. "Fourty years ago, our house was out there," he says, pointing 300 metres out into the sea. "So much land has been lost and it's getting worse, we have lost so much and we can not survive another Aila." Dakka's new home is built of clay and now lies 50 metres from the shoreline.
"We have rebuilt our home three times. The sea has turned our land saline and now we have too little land of our own, we have to work for other farmers to survive." He glances over to the construction site for the sea defence wall and continues, "Now we pray the rebuilding will go quick so it reaches our area before the coming monsoon."